While running a profitable business is important to us, so is good corporate citizenship.
The environment is one of our cornerstones; we are deeply concerned about taking care of it for our people and communities. Our sustainability strategy has been implemented with a focus on four UN Sustainable Development Goals, included in the SDG7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG12 Responsible Consumption and Production.
Several of our Flex 20 by 2020 goals are focused on the environment and our environmental programs are inclusive. They span our operations, employees and communities. We reduce our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through global energy management, renewable energy and GHG offsetting programs. We also drive environmental action and awareness that directly impact our employees and communities through programs like our annual Earth Day Challenge.
Energy and GHG management program
In 2018, we implemented more than 200 energy saving projects in our facilities. We aim to improve energy efficiency, optimize processes and reduce energy emissions.
Key examples of our clean energy projects include installing energy-efficient HVAC systems, replacing lighting installations with LEDs, improving maintenance programs and building control systems. In total, we have reduced over 41,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions.
“Our energy management program started around 10 years ago. We deploy hundreds of projects, every year, with the aim to improve our performance, to save energy and to have a positive environmental impact,” said Mario Ochoa, VP of Corporate Real Estate, Facilities and Workplace Services.
LED light fixture replacement
We produce some of the world’s most efficient LED lighting systems for commercial and industrial applications. Between 2013 and 2018, we installed over 113,000 LED light fixtures manufactured by Flex Lighting Solutions in 15 countries (Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the US). This resulted in savings of over 87GWh/year*, which could power the equivalent of more than 8,300 homes for one year**. This global project helped us to reduce over 61,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions per year*.
Thermal co-generation facility in Mexico
We have a thermal cogeneration facility in Guadalajara North, Mexico. It generates over 60 GWh/year, which could power over 5,800 homes for a year**. Since installation, it has avoided the generation of over 20,000 tonnes of Scope 2 CO2e per year.
Our growing renewable installations around the world
In line with our goal of increasing renewable energy use by 2MW annually, we have solar installations in 3 regions, over 5 sites in 4 countries, with a total global capacity of +19MW. The average life expectancy of these installations is 20 years.
Our sites in Juarez and Guadalajara, Mexico currently have a total installed capacity of 3.2MW, totaling over 9,400 solar panels, with additional projects in the works. Annually, our sites generate 3.5GWh/year. This energy translates into over 1,600 tonnes of CO2e that was not generated. In addition to this, we buy the equivalent to over 15MW on average, per year, of wind and solar renewable energy for our site in Austin, Texas.
Our biggest on-site renewable energy programs are located at our sites in Zhuhai, China and Chennai, India. They total 15.15MW of solar power, made up by 100K+ solar panels, that can generate up to 13.2 GWh/year. This energy averts the generation of over 9,000 tonnes of CO2e per year.
At our Althofen, Austria site our employees invested their own money in almost 4,000 solar panels, as part of a 1 MW photovoltaic power plant, which is expected to produce up to 1GWh/year. Moreover, it is a symbol of environmental action for the community.
In 2019, we expect additional renewable energy projects will start to operate. This includes a major project in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico and smaller projects in the Philippines, Brazil and China implemented by some of the sites recognized for their efforts in the 2018 Earth Day Challenge.
Offsetting our GHG emissions
Between 2017 and 2018, we abated 133,000+ tonnes of Scope 3 CO2e emissions through Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) Certificates from the Clean Development Mechanism. The supported projects include a fleet of hybrid and electric buses in Zhengzhou, China, the generation of wind power in India, and hydroelectric plants in Brazil and India.
These projects bring sustainable development benefits (social, environmental and economic) to communities in countries where we have operations and contribute to the achievement of the UN SDGs. The emissions reductions are certified by the UN.
Making our communities greener
In 2018, through the Flex Foundation, we supported GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit whose mission is making renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. The funds from the Foundation were used towards two projects deployed in Mexico and in the US. In total, they will support up to 120 families in having access to clean energy in the form of solar panels.
Communities are key to driving the change necessary to tackle present environmental challenges. Through the Flex Foundation, and in collaboration with nonprofits like GRID Alternatives, we help them become more resilient. Access to a reliable, clean source of energy will make all the difference for these communities. We help bring this technology, not only for our customers, through our products, but also for people in disadvantaged situations.
Bringing renewable energy solutions to the market
We are on track to achieve our Flex 20 by 2020 goal of manufacturing enough solar PV modules and solar trackers to power the equivalent of 3.5 million homes. In 2018, we manufactured enough to power over 3.2 million homes.
At NEXTracker™, a Flex company, we drive renewable energy adoption by designing and building the most advanced solar trackers, software optimization technologies and energy storage systems in the industry. As of Spring 2019, NEXTracker™ had delivered 19 GW of smart solar trackers to the global solar market.
Recognition of our performance and transparency efforts
Our efforts were recognized by CDP, a nonprofit that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. In 2018, we scored B (management level) for our Climate Change disclosure.
What's more, over the past year we’ve been honored to receive many awards for our leading edge Software as a Service (SaaS), energy storage and solar tracking technologies. In 2018, NEXTracker™ received the Array Changing Technologies Award from PV Magazine, Project of the Year in Saudi Arabia from the Middle East Solar Association (2018-19), Intersolar’s Smarter E 2019 Finalist for our NX Flow battery deployment in Iowa’s first solar plus storage innovation, and the pv magazine award for our TrueCapture Smart Control System.
These are just some of our efforts. We will continue to implement more of these programs to walk the talk at our locations, increase our positive impact in our communities and reduce our environmental impact.
* Assuming 50 weeks per year, 6 days per week and 24 hours per day.
** Assuming an average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer of 10,399 KWh.