Manuel Gómez
Vice President of Sustainability
Walmart Mexico and Central America
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View from the Top

Off-Takers Continue to Support Renewables

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 15:57

Q: What have been the accomplishments in terms of green practices and sustainability that Walmart has achieved this past year?

A: We have proven that it is possible to expand the business while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint. Over the past five years, Walmart Mexico was able to increase the sales floor by 18% and it had not implemented sustainability initiatives, its footprint would have grown proportionally. Walmart invested in new technologies, such as LED lighting, and implemented operational efficiency programs at a store level. This has allowed it to reduce its energy impact by 26% in the past five years, and 51% of stores are now supplied by renewable energy. The latter is thanks to the addition of one more wind farm and a hydroelectric power plant. The combination of lower energy use and renewable energy has allowed us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 12%. We would like more companies to follow our lead since this hard data reflects that our commitment to sustainability and our innovative actions have led to a tangible impact.

Q: Walmart covers 51% of its energy needs with renewable power in Mexico. What opportunities have you identified within the new electricity market, especially as a qualified user?

A: We are learning and evaluating how to navigate the waters of this new regulatory framework. Indeed, in the new electricity market, being a qualified user is one option open to us, among others. One thing that remains certain is that Walmart will continue to lead in renewable energies because it strongly believes it can correlate business growth with a small environmental footprint. The combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are fully prepared for SEMARNAT’s National Emissions Inventory, as we have publically reported our emissions since 2007 to the GEI Mexico Program and to the CDP since 2011. In addition, our emissions report is verified by an independent third party.

Q: Which renewable energies are capturing your attention, and what do you look for in an ideal partner to develop renewable projects?

A: An ideal supplier needs to have an excellent track record, be competitive, have a solid reputation, and be a driver of innovation. The developer has to follow best practices and protocols and this means taking into consideration the environmental and social impacts. All renewable energies have captured our attention and we strongly believe in the importance of a mix of technologies, since they all have unique strengths and they complement each other. Having a mix helps build a more competitive portfolio, since development times differ and each technology has different generation peaks during the day or during the year. Another important factor to consider is the scale, since utility-scale renewable energy projects are more competitive, and offer stability and predictable rates.

Q: As an AAA company and ideal off-taker, what are the concerns that you share with players in the energy industry? How will you be positioned within this new electricity market?

A: There are two factors that position us at the forefront of the new electricity market. Firstly, we are pioneers in implementing environmental programs that demonstrate business growth potential. Secondly, we will reduce our environmental footprint in absolute terms and simultaneously double the size of the business. Our current pipeline showcases a range of technologies and geographies and this will allow us to diversify and build on the strength of our project portfolio. As an AAA rated off-taker we bring a variety of factors to the table, some of which include economies of scale and quality. Our commitment to sustainability is undeniable, and Mexico has opened its doors to the opportunities to develop competitive renewable energy projects. The new regulatory framework offers off-takers the choice between traditional and renewable energy, and spot versus fixed prices. Choice is ultimately of the utmost importance for off-takers. Mexico’s goal regarding the renewable options it currently provides is extremely ambitious and requires collaborative partnerships and an active role of the private sector. I strongly believe Mexico is well positioned to be a leader in renewable energy in a way that is sustainable. I trust we will continue to be a leader in the market with the new electricity regulatory framework