Sustainability is the word on everyone’s lips, and it means more than simply reducing emissions. To be sustainable requires taking into account the environmental, economic, and social dimension of the entire value chain. Solar is the most sustainable energy source not just because of its low carbon footprint, but also because it leads to increased energy self-sufficiency, and is highly job-intensive, creating more jobs per installed watt than any other power generation source.
The solar industry aims to strengthen its leadership on the sustainability front, and the ambitious European Green Deal provides the perfect framework to cement sustainability as a guiding principle. We take this occasion to shine a spotlight on companies leading the charge with sustainability efforts. Our latest sustainability champion, Jessica Mannocchi, Global Sustainability Manager for SMA. SMA Solar Technology AG is a leading global specialist in photovoltaic system technology, working on decentralised, digital and renewable energy supply. We discuss what each individual person can do to improve their sustainability impact, and the work SMA has been doing for their sustainability.
1. What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means being aware of the impact of my actions and making decisions that ensure that future generation have the same opportunities as we do. Protecting the environment plays a central role here, as it is the basis of all life. Because ecological, economic and social issues are interrelated and influence each other, they need to be addressed together. I believe that the role of social justice is underrated in the broad sustainability debate.
2. What does your company do to support sustainability in solar?
For 40 years now, SMA works to use the sun as an energy source and actively contributes to the energy transition. However, SMA does not rest on this sustainable business purpose. Sustainability has been firmly anchored in our corporate mission since SMA was founded. Right from the beginning, we firmly believed that it is not enough only to develop and produce solutions for the production of clean energy, but that it is also extremely important that these solutions are produced, used and recycled in a way that is sustainable across the whole value chain. We have always strived to combine long-term economic success with protection of the environment and social responsibility. Ecological and social impacts of SMA’s activities are thoroughly analyzed and continuously reduced. SMA reports on its progress in the non-financial statement.
3. Which sustainability areas do you focus on, and why?
SMA already knows a lot about the sustainability impact of its activities based on in-depth analyses which are constantly reviewed. Focus areas were determined based on internal assessments, stakeholder dialogues and social goals, such as the SDGs. Within our sustainability strategy, we address environmental, social and governance aspects and have defined four areas of action as the focal points of our commitment to sustainability: products and processes; environment and energy; employees; and social responsibility. Within these areas important fields of action are decarbonization, sustainable product development, circular economic approaches, diversity and responsibility in the supply chain, to name a few.
4. How does sustainability impact your day-to-day job?
Of course, my whole work as a sustainability manager is focused on sustainability topics. However, everyone makes decisions every day that have an impact on sustainability. There’s the choice of transportation to work, the choice of food, and the way we interact with colleagues. We all carry responsibility every day for things that have an impact on sustainability.
5. How can Europeans get involved to make their lives and the continent more sustainable?
If every person on earth had the standard of living that we Europeans have, we would need about three times the planet earth. Therefore, it is necessary to rethink our way of living in general. I also believe that focusing on the chances of sustainability brings a lot of opportunities for the European industry. At SMA, we have driven the global energy transition for 40 years now with technological innovations. Together with our partners, we are leveraging our system expertise to shape the future sustainable and digital energy supply globally. Thus, we are part of a broader community of European companies that are leaders in sustainable development.
Photo Credit: SMA