By: Andy Harig, Senior Director, Sustainability, Tax & Trade, Food Marketing Institute

Solar FarmIn the last decade, food retailers have made notable efforts in the area of renewable energy to reduce the environmental impact caused from operation expenses. In 2007, The Hershey Company introduced a conservation program to optimize energy and lower manufacturing costs. Price Chopper followed by installing stationary fuel cells at three store locations. The installation provides energy security for perishable items and lessens the building’s carbon footprint by 71 tons. Recently, Ahold Delhaize added more than 600 rooftop solar panels to improve energy efficiency in their facilities, as well as, the efficiency of their transport methods.

These are exciting steps forward, but in an era of cheap energy and low fuel prices it can be tough to make the case for investing in renewables. With the energy market in a period of rapid and remarkable transformation, how should companies consider using renewable energy? A recent interview with Schneider Electric offers retailers some insights into both the misconceptions and opportunities surrounding renewable energy.

Without a doubt the biggest misconception surrounding a move towards investing in renewable energy is that it can be prohibitively expensive. The price of renewables has significantly dropped, which lowers the cost of adoption. Today, depending on what companies are trying to achieve, they can use a portfolio of renewable choices to ultimately surpass conventional fuel prices and save money.

Schneider acknowledges that stepping outside established practices can feel risky, but innovation offers long-term rewards. Recent developments in renewable energies will provide companies with new, affordable ways to meet their goals. Technologies like microgrids, microturbines, blockchain and carbon capture yields exciting opportunities for retailers to explore for their facilities, and more broadly, for their supply chains.

There are many exciting things happening in renewable energy as industries look to become more sustainable.  Retailers should remember that it wasn’t so long ago that we were worried about $150 a barrel oil; today’s low energy prices aren’t necessarily going to last forever.  Renewables just might be the hedge that retailers need to keep them strong and profitable in the long-term.

Learn how retailers can use clean technology to achieve economic prosperity and better business at the 2017 Global Sustainability Summit on August 9-11 in Nashville, Tennessee. Register here.