Boralex cuts GHG emissions, sets new ESG targets

IMAGE: Mihaela Stefanov, Boralex's CSR director

Mihaela Stefanov, Boralex’s CSR director. (Courtesy Boralex Inc.)

Renewable energy facility operator Boralex Inc. says in its 2021 corporate responsibility report (CSR) the company has increased its “avoided” greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent year-over-year.

The recently released report updates Boralex’s progress and goals surrounding environmental and social governance (ESG) for 2022 and beyond. Boralex published its first CSR report in 2020, and in July 2021, it built a strategy around 10 ESG priorities, integrating them into an overall strategic plan for 2025.

Some of those goals include achieving a level of 27.5 per cent for women in management positions; maintaining at least 30 per cent female representation on the board of directors; placing women in 35 per cent of open positions in 2022; and, variable compensation for the company’s senior executives.

It also targets freeing 781,773 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere through its renewable energy production in 2025.

Mihaela Stefanov, Boralex’s CSR director, who joined the firm in April 2021, said the highlight for 2021 was getting the ESG structure and targets in place.

“What is important to keep in mind is that we’re not going to set up targets just to have a set of targets,” Stefanov said. “(We’re setting up targets) that are realistic, and are (targeting goals) that are also creating value for our business and for stakeholders, and that we have the capacity to do it.”

ESG highlights

The report also noted a decline in its Scope-1 and -2 emissions during the past couple of years. Overall, the company reported avoiding 352,666 tons of CO2 in 2021 — 24 per cent more than in 2020.

“The most important thing to keep in mind, I think in our approach, is that CSR is part of business, and business is part of CSR,” Stefanov said. “You shouldn’t silo (ESG) if you want to do it seriously and you want this to really bring value to the company.”

The report did not address Scope-3 emissions due to the increased difficulty in measuring them. Still, Stefanov said the company is working to reduce Scope-1 and -2 emissions further and analyze its Scope-3 emissions.

Stefanov noted a portion of the CO2 avoidance in this report resulted from the April sale of the 12 MW Blendecques cogeneration plant in its French portfolio, a facility that burned natural gas. Boralex also sold its last remaining biomass plant in Senneterre, Que.

Consequently, Boralex is expecting much lower Scope-1 emissions by the end of 2022. It plans to set clear definitions for new reduction targets in the years to come, and Stefanov said more details on those specific steps are expected in next year’s CSR report.

Preliminary Scope-3 reporting the company shared with SustainableBiz showed in 2019 and 2020, “three categories accounted for about 98 per cent of such emissions: purchased products and services; investments related to our renewable energy generation sites; and fuel and energy activities.”

Realistic sustainability

Stefanov had spent 10 years in the sustainability sector, previously with Ernst and Young in several managerial positions. At Boralex, she makes sure that CSR and ESG initiatives are integrated into the company’s business structure and reports directly to CEO Patrick Decostre.

“To truly deal with the climate crisis, it is no longer enough to simply produce electricity from renewable sources,” said Decostre in a statement. “Producing that energy sustainably while limiting our impact and creating value for all our stakeholders is just as important.”

Decostre’s comments followed its joining the Solar Industry Forced Labor Prevention Pledge last February. Designed to keep the solar supply chain free of forced labour, the consortium — created by the U.S.’s Solar Energies Industry Association — has more than 300 global companies under its pledge.

By 2030, Boralex plans to have 15 per cent of its installed capacity in Canada, with wind and solar power each comprising about 45 per cent of the total.

Boralex was founded in 1990 in Kingsey Falls, Que. Cascades, a company known for manufacturing and marketing packaging products, set up Canada’s first natural gas cogeneration plant in the area. Aside from wind and solar power, it also deals in hydroelectricity, energy storage, and thermal energy.

Today, it has operations in the U.S. and France – where it is the largest independent producer of onshore wind power.

It has more than 1.5 GW of wind and solar power projects in France at various stages of development.

Nicholas Sokic is a freelance, Toronto-based journalist. He has covered a number of sectors, including business, finance, crypto, health, cannabis and culture. He graduated from Western University's Master of Media…

Read more

Nicholas Sokic is a freelance, Toronto-based journalist. He has covered a number of sectors, including business, finance, crypto, health, cannabis and culture. He graduated from Western University's Master of Media…

Read more

Industry Events