With energy prices on the rise around the world, businesses are searching for sustainable alternative energy solutions. According to an international study on alternative energy trends conducted by Harris Interactive for Dow Corning Corporation, nearly 40 percent of companies globally have either implemented or are actively investigating alternative energy technology.
"We anticipate alternative energy technologies, like solar, will gain even greater importance in the future with oil prices continuing to rise," said Peter Cartwright, Dow Corning executive director for environment, health and safety.
"This study shows that companies are looking to renewable energy such as solar to reduce their rising energy costs and address environmental issues," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "We need common-sense policies to expand renewable energy markets and create green-collar jobs, while moving us to a clean energy future."
When asked what factors influence their company's decisions about alternative energy, respondents indicated that cost reduction, company reputation and environmental benefits were the greatest factors.
- In the Americas, enhancing the company's reputation was more important than in other regions.
- In Europe, the need for cost reduction was the primary factor.
- The greatest factor influencing alternative energy decisions in Asia is the environmental benefits of the technology.
"Dow Corning is investigating the potential for wind power and we're investing significantly in solar to help make this a more viable alternative to traditional forms of energy," said Cartwright.
In the last three years, Dow Corning has invested more than $2 billion to research and develop materials designed to make solar energy an accessible and sustainable energy option globally. "This investment represents Dow Corning's commitment to the alternative energy arena," said Cartwright. "We are excited to take part in this journey of discovery and innovation, and contribute to providing efficient choices for our customers."
Last year, Dow Corning installed more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels at one of its largest manufacturing sites located in Wiesbaden, Germany. The panels are expected to generate enough energy to satisfy the annual electricity needs of 35 households. The company is also exploring the possibility of purchasing energy derived from wind power for its Seneffe, Belgium facility.
Survey participants were also asked about their familiarity with the term "carbon footprint." The results show the concept of carbon footprinting is not widely recognized globally, however, there is a higher level of acknowledgement in the Americas and Europe than in Asia. "Carbon footprint is a term relatively new to most people. With the myriad of emerging labels and requests for data in different forms, it will probably continue to be confusing until international standards are fully developed and companies are asked for consistent information," said Cartwright. "To give an answer involves complex analysis along the supply chain, and most companies probably want to get this right rather than simply quote a number. We welcome the work on this and look forward to standards we can all use in industry."
As part of Dow Corning's sustainability goals, the corporation is actively utilizing new technology and processes to continue to improve our energy and carbon efficiency from our existing silicone production facilities:
- In the United States, Dow Corning invested more than $50 million in new manufacturing technology at the Midland, Mich. site, which will reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent.
- A new manufacturing process at Dow Corning's Carrollton, Ky. site has led to the reduction of carbon emissions equal to taking more than 600 cars off the road and saving enough energy to heat nearly 500 homes.
- Utilizing barges rather than road tankers to transport certain products from Dow Corning's Barry, Wales site to its site in Seneffe, Belgium facility will reduce carbon emissions by 350 tons and save 112,000 liters of diesel on an annual basis.
- Dow Corning also developed an online calculator to assist other manufacturers with measuring their company's energy and potential CO2 savings through the use of proper machine lubrication.
This international study was conducted via telephone and e-mail with 1,000 Dow Corning customers and prospects from the Americas, Asia and Europe. Additional results and charts illustrating the key findings of the study are available at www.dowcorning.com.