Vietnamese solar helps power a new dawn for wind’s sustainable supply chain
The beating sun of Ho Chi Minh city is beginning to drive a new era that will help the wind industry’s supply chain become more sustainable and significantly cut emissions. The first fruits of a decarbonization strategy for Siemens Gamesa’s tower supply chain published in late 2020 are now gleaming across CS Wind’s installations in the outskirts of Vietnam’s largest city. In fact, a total of 16,282 solar panels have been installed, for a total capacity of around 7 MW at peak, which will soon cover around 40% of the company’s electricity requirements.
Siemens Gamesa first contacted CS Wind, which provides steel towers for its turbines across the world, in 2019 to urge them to use renewable sources to power their operations as part of the company’s wider mission to ensure decarbonization of its supply chain activities. These contacts with many suppliers are now producing real results. While there was an initial reduction of 20,000 tons of CO2 from the decarbonization strategy for the supply chain in 2020, much more will come as further suppliers switch to renewable energy.
“Siemens Gamesa convinced us that this was the right way forward. It has been a good investment for the business and is now just the start on our journey towards being carbon neutral. We have delivered over 5,000 towers to Siemens Gamesa, so we’re more of a partner than a supplier, and we will look at more initiatives together to help lower emissions,” said Justin Cho, Director of Sales and Business Development at CS Wind. Indeed, he added that the success of the solar project in Vietnam will lead the company to replicate the solar installations at its plant in Malaysia, as it aims to meet a target of sourcing 100% of its electricity supply from renewable electricity sources by 2030 at the latest.
CS Wind’s towers have been used at many of Siemens Gamesa’s wind projects around the world. These included the towers for the 125MW Tra Vinh Dong Hai 1 wind farm, which will be the largest nearshore project in the country using 25 SG 5.0-145 turbines adapted to work 2.5 km off the coast of the Tra Vinh province.
While CS Wind is among many suppliers looking at reducing their carbon footprint, David Anderson, Head of Towers Procurement at Siemens Gamesa, said the South Korea-based company had gone to great lengths already to place sustainability at the center of its work.
“We now have contracts for many suppliers to switch to using 100% renewable energy. This could mean simply switching to use a green electricity supplier, but it was really CS Wind that then took the initiative even further to make a big solar investment that will in time help it to save much more money. And also it laid down a marker as a supplier intent on driving a sustainable future,” he said.
“What we’re doing is not changing the world, but they are small steps that send a message to all of our stakeholders that Siemens Gamesa is taking sustainability seriously. The momentum is now there and we expect to make much more progress going forward.”
To get there, Partnerships with Purpose, such as this one with CS Wind, will contribute to driving real change in the energy transition.
Despite this, Le Thi Phuong Nhi, Managing Director for Siemens Gamesa in Vietnam, said that a change was beginning to be seen at many companies in the country to make their operations more sustainable. This is of particular relevance to Vietnam given its strong objectives to grow in wind energy in the years ahead. The country has around 630 MW of wind energy installed currently, but plans to have 16 GW installed by 2030, with 1 GW of that coming from a promising offshore sector.
Part of the work ahead will also look to incentivize suppliers to deliver on their sustainable commitments, with the short-term firm objective to have minimum 30% of suppliers to have decarbonization targets approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) alongside Siemens Gamesa. The aim of this initiative is verifying that the sustainability strategies of the enlisted companies are sufficient to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
According to Maximilian Schnippering, Lead of Siemens Gamesa’s Supply Chain Sustainability team, the work must not end there though. “At Siemens Gamesa, we are building our activities on an integrated sustainability management approach. We are focusing on mitigating our environmental impacts and promoting socially responsible actions along the whole supply chain.”
For Maximilian, like so many working in the wind industry, he sees his work as also being very much vocational. Indeed, when he first joined Siemens Gamesa eight years ago, he was writing his dissertation on sustainability and supply chain management with the University of Hamburg. So, among the many projects he will lead, will be assuring that the company monitors closely the impacts related to Siemens