The movement seems inevitable; as the world’s population grows and as economies continue to develop, global electricity demand is expected to increase – and with it, a swelling proportion of renewable electricity generation that is anticipated to meet this growth head on.1
Although previously comprising just 5% of the world’s total power generation (as at 2016), solar PV could account for nearly one third of the world’s total power generation by 2040.2 The growth of the solar industry has consequently resulted in a mainstream infrastructure investment class: utility-scale, stable and cash flow-producing solar power plants that generate emissions-free power.3 These changing market dynamics are something experts have carefully monitored for some time – sparking the genesis of New Energy Solar, founded with the purpose of identifying solar opportunities and capitalising on both increased market demand and the desire to generate positive social impact.
The environmental difficulties facing the world, as well as the associated challenges that exist in maintaining communities in ways that allow for future growth and prosperity, can be both demanding and complex. At the heart of New Energy Solar’s operations is a dedication to not only curb rising temperatures and reduce carbon emissions, but to also contribute positively to communities and partner with responsible suppliers to help create a more sustainable future for all.
Understanding the extent of New Energy Solar’s impact led to the development of the team’s first Sustainability Report, which outlines the business’s influence on energy and climate change, community engagement, the health and safety of people and communities, as well as insight into corporate governance and fiduciary duty to our stakeholders. For your convenience, we’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways of this report to help you understand the impacts the team has had – not only on the environment, but on the communities in which it operates.
Energy and climate change
New Energy Solar’s mandate is to help mitigate the consequences of climate change by generating clean, emissions-free energy through the business’s growing portfolio of solar power plants.
As of September 2018, New Energy Solar had 12 operating plants. However, once the 22-strong portfolio is fully operational, the business is expected to generate 1,700 gigawatt hours of electricity each year – enough to displace more than 1,174,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.4 This is the equivalent of powering some 233,000 households (or all of the households in Wollongong and Newcastle in New South Wales) or removing more than 300,000 cars from the road each year.5 You can learn more about each plant’s functionality and contribution by viewing the portfolio.
In 2018, New Energy Solar partnered with SolarBuddy, an Australian charity working towards ending energy poverty – a crippling issue defined as a lack of access to safe, clean and reliable energy sources in developing communities.6 SolarBuddy estimates that as many as 1.4 billion people do not have access to modern electricity,7 with many resorting to using kerosene – the health implications of which are serious, as kerosene is a toxic fuel that emits CO2 in the form of black carbon.8
Through its two-pronged approach – education and illumination – the charity promotes energy poverty education through the SolarBuddy Education Program. School children are provided with the opportunity to build SolarBuddy’s solar-powered LED lights, and since 2016, more than 100,000 students have participated in the program, building lights and illuminating the lives of more than 200,000 people in marginalised communities around the world.9
New Energy Solar opens its solar farms to the public for education purposes, offering site testing and tours to educate high school and college students about solar power and its importance in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The team works with the University of California, Berkeley at its Rosamond facility, exploring the concept of structural changes to soil hydrology and soil biology in solar plants – an area of particular importance to New Energy Solar, as land preservation is carefully monitored during a solar plant’s construction phase and through its operational life. However, the business’s involvement with education institutions also extends to its offtake partners – of which Stanford University is a prime example.
New Energy Solar is also dedicated to forming and maintaining strong relationships with the local communities in which it operates – to not only add value through providing sustainable energy solutions, but to also make tangible contributions to the prosperity and economic development of these regions. For example, NC-31 and NC-47 (located in North Carolina) are estimated to have delivered US$22 million in economic impacts to their areas in 2016 and the first half of 2017, which also includes the contribution of jobs to North Carolina’s more than 7,600-strong solar industry.10
Health and safety
Many of New Energy Solar’s plants contain high-voltage transmission equipment and are located in rural areas adjacent to farms. An accident could not only threaten one’s wellbeing, but result in damages to property and the environment, as well as contribute to the endangerment of wildlife and plant availability. As such, New Energy Solar consistently undertakes a preventative and proactive approach when dealing with potential health and safety hazards that could impact the contractors, service providers and surrounding communities.
New Energy Solar’s underlying philosophy is that all injuries and accidents can be prevented. The business strives to provide sustainable and reliable energy to the community, while also cultivating safe and healthy environments for the benefit of all employees, communities and stakeholders alike.
Corporate governance and fiduciary duty to stakeholders
The Boards of New Energy Solar11 recognise the importance of strong corporate governance and are committed to maintaining high standards of governance and compliance. Where appropriate, the Boards benchmark New Energy Solar against the 3rd Edition of the Corporate Governance Principles & Recommendations issued by the Australian Stock Exchange Corporate Council. Available on the website, the governance policies have been documented in the Corporate Governance Charter and are reviewed annually.
Overall, the governing values of New Energy Solar’s culture include honesty, integrity and professionalism – all of which are essential to upholding the team’s reputation as an award-winning sustainable investment business. As such, demonstrating transparency and professional rigor is important to all the business’s activities across its office locations and solar plants.
You can learn more about the findings of New Energy Solar’s 2018 Sustainability Report by visiting the the investor centre. You can also use New Energy Solar's environmental impact calculator to see the potential your investment could have on the environment. Finally, to learn more about renewable energy and sustainable investments, subscribe to the New Energy Solar newsletter today.
Michael serves as Chief Financial Officer for New Energy Solar, responsible for all the team's financial activities. He has more than 16 years' experience working at the forefront of the finance, infrastructure and investment management sectors.