Novo manufacturing will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020

Novo Nordisk has invested in a 672-acre solar panel installation near its massive manufacturing site in North Carolina, a move that will allow it to hit one of its aggressive environmental goals. (Pixabay)

A solar power operation in North Carolina the size of 500 football fields has become key to Novo Nordisk’s effort to cut the cord for traditional energy sources. The company says its investment in the operation means that by 2020 it will be able to power all of its U.S. production with renewable electricity sources.

The company, which already is lauded for its social responsibility, says it has more in store. Novo has set a new aggressive target to ease its impact as a company on the environment. It plans to achieve zero CO2 emissions (PDF) from all operations and transportation by 2030 using its “Circular for Zero” environmental strategy.

“By committing to achieve zero emissions across our operations and transport by 2030 and by applying a circular mindset across our entire business, we are working towards a day when we will be able to say that Novo Nordisk is a company with zero environmental impact,” Novo CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said in a statement.

Many drugmakers have been making progress toward reducing their environmental impact by building production facilities to various levels of LEED standard, often incorporating passive solar and grey water recycling systems. But Novo will be the first to be able to say it is using 100% renewable energy.

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Novo noted that the 672-acre production facility in North Carolina created tremendous challenges to reaching its environmental goals. It said its agreement to run its new facility in North Carolina using 100% solar power means it will now be able to reach the 2020 goal first set in 2015 when it joined RE100, a collaborative effort involving 165 companies.  

The company uses sources of clean energy in other parts of the world as well, including 100% windmill power at its production in Tianjin in China. In Montes Claros in Brazil, the company uses 100% water power, and in Europe all production sites use 100% windmill power. At its home in Denmark, Novo says all of its facilities—production and offices—run on 100% renewable power.

Novo this year was among seven pharma companies that were in the top 100 in Reputation Institute’s annual measurement of public perceptions. It was the only one in the top 10, hitting No. 5 because of its “focus on social impact, environmental responsibility and financial performance, as well as being an employer focused on innovation and responsibility.”