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Finance for the Future Awards 2016 Finalists Announced

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Financing for the future awards

The shortlist for this year’s Finance for the Future Awards is unveiled by the founding organisations, ICAEW and A4S, and their partner Deloitte.

The awards recognise finance functions that demonstrate sustainable business practices throughout their operations. Now in its fifth year, the winners will be announced in London at an awards ceremony on 13 October 2016.

The Finance for the Future Awards celebrate and recognise the role of the finance function within organisations, and the wider finance community, in helping to build resilient organisations through embedding environmental and broader social issues into their decision making. Since the inaugural awards in 2012, they have continued to grow and this year sees the addition of two new categories. These include the awards for communicating integrated thinking and investing and financing. 2015 winners included Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, Carbon Tracker Initiative and Sussex Community NHS Trust.

The 2016 categories and finalists are:

Large business – Recognises businesses with a turnover of more than £100m or more than 1,000 employees:

  • Auckland Airport
  • Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
  • Skanska UK
  • United Utilities

Public sector and third sector – Recognises those organisations that are (part of) a government department or local authority, charities or not-for-profit organisations:

  • Climate Disclosure Standards Board
  • Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission
  • HM Treasury

Communicating integrated thinking – Recognises organisations that demonstrate a sustainable business model through the use of “integrated thinking” in communications:

  • CLP Holdings
  • Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
  • DBS
  • John Lewis Partnership
  • Novo Nordisk
  • United Utilities

Investing and financing – Recognises organisations that advise on financial products and investors whose activity has had sustainable outcomes:

  • Bridges Ventures
  • CCLA Investment Management
  • Easypaisa
  • WHEB Asset Management

Innovative new idea – Recognises groups or individuals that have developed new and innovative ideas that will have tangible impacts on one or more of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development:

  • Armen Papazian, Finoptek
  • OnGen
  • Prospus Group
  • The Public Services Lab (PSL) – a joint venture established by integrated services provider Interserve, social finance experts ClubFinance, social business Catch22 and independent financial institute with a social mission Big Society Capital

Richard Spencer, Head of Sustainability at ICAEW said: “These finalists have made the grade because their finance function has showed tremendous dedication to addressing the serious environmental and social challenges we face. They have demonstrated that they not only understand the critical need for sustainability to be embedded at the heart of their operations, but how finance can lead the way in integrating this across all levels of their business. Transformational change will only come by changing the way that we view and do business, and these are the companies that are leading the way.”

Jessica Fries, Executive Chairman at A4S said: “Finance has a vital role to play in creating sustainable business. This year’s finalists provide inspiration, showing how economic, social and environmental challenges can be tackled through integration into decision making, benefiting both the organization itself and society as a whole.”

Veronica Poole, global IFRS leader and UK head of accounting at Deloitte, said: “This year’s shortlist emphasises the global reach of these awards. For the first time the awards are specifically rewarding the communication of integrated thinking. A strong list of entrants for the new category demonstrates that for many companies around the globe the dialogue with investors and other providers of financial capital is becoming more focused on sustainable business models that deliver long-term value.”

For more information, please visit: www.financeforthefuture.co.uk

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Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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