The Danish company Ørsted has made some significant changes to its operations over the last decade. Formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG), it is no longer considered a coal giant. Instead, Ørsted is a champion of wind power: “In the past ten years, we have transformed from a company that had fossil fuels at the core of its business to being essentially a pure-play renewable energy company,” says CEO Henrik Poulsen.
The transformation has paid off: Ørsted has been named as the most sustainable company in the world according to Global 100, a yearly ranking index of the world’s most sustainable companies. A well-deserved title, given the fact that the company has reduced its CO2 emissions by more than 80% since 2006 and has a target to “essentially become carbon neutral” by 2025.
But the journey has not been easy. “Over the past eight or nine years, we have been gradually disassembling the very core of the company and using the cash from that to accelerate the build-out of our leadership position in offshore wind. It has been a dramatic change.” What Ørsted saw as an opportunity a decade ago has now become a necessity: “We need to fundamentally change the global energy system from black to green energy” Poulsen adds.
But what about profits, you might ask? While other companies have not taken the plunge to fundamentally change the way they operate due to a fear of losing money in the process, Ørsted has managed to do all that and has doubled its value to a whopping USD 40 billion since going public in 2016.
CEO Henrik Poulsen is proud of this achievement: “Running the company just for profit doesn’t make sense, but running it just for a bigger purpose is also not sustainable in the long term. Doing good and doing well must go together.” And they go together very well, as the Global 100 Index has now made crystal clear.
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