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Sustainability report 19/20

Climate and environmental protection

2019 | 2020

  • Climate strategy 2040 – integration into the company strategy
  • 7,626 MWh annual energy savings at own facilities

2021 | 2022

  • Implementation of an emission management system
  • Conversion of additional well sites to solar energy plants

Climate protection

Reduction of energy use and emissions 

Protecting the climate is the core focus of a sustainable energy system. We want to make a significant contribution to the success of the European Union’s Green Deal initiative by developing and implementing projects related to environmentally friendly energy storage We see RAG’s high-capacity energy storage facilities as a key element underpinning the renewable energy supply of tomorrow and the basis for the ongoing development of new energy technologies.

My job involves helping our operations to permanently cut emissions and use energy more efficiently. This is my contribution for future generations.
Gregor Lohninger | Energy and emissions management

We want all of the energy demand at our plants to be covered by renewable sources by 2040 at the latest. This will involve the gradual conversion of well sites into solar energy sites equipped with photovoltaic systems. The target is to produce up to 60,000 MWh of climate-neutral energy ourselves each year by then. This means that around 10% of supplies for own use will be carbon-neutral by 2025.

To help implement the measures needed to achieve our strategic emission targets, our energy management system was extended in February 2021 to include an internal emissions management system. An energy and emissions manager was appointed whose responsibilities include ongoing energy monitoring as well as analysis of consumption (electricity, gas, heat, etc.) and the evaluation and implementation of potential energy-saving measures. One of the main focuses will be on detailed recording of emissions. This information will be recorded in a modern reporting system, potential reductions identified and suitable measures to avoid emissions implemented.

We are already producing the energy required to operate our facilities ourselves wherever we can, and using it efficiently. We are also trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions at our own plants by planning our maintenance and monitoring activities as effectively as possible. In addition, we are reducing vehicle emissions by operating a gas-driven (CNG) fleet, rolling out the necessary refuelling infrastructure (RAG’s own CNG and LNG filling stations) and the steadily increasing use of biomethane. This move has the potential to cut fine particulate emissions significantly compared to conventional fuel types.

Climate neutral operations by 2040

A core aspect of RAG’s sustainable energy mining concept is using production sites to produce renewable energy (such as photovoltaic power). RAG is converting well sites (a total of up to 220) into solar energy sites equipped with photovoltaic systems. This will enable us to generate up to 60,000 MWh of climate-neutral energy a year, which will be used to power RAG’s facilities.

The electricity generated during the summer is converted, stored in our gas reservoirs and used in winter for the carbon-neutral operation of drive units at our storage facilities. We aim to use this sustainable, eco-friendly approach to produce all of the energy required for our operations by 2040.

Environmental protection

Together with safety, environmental protection and responsible stewardship of Austria’s natural resources are paramount in all of our activities and work processes.

In order to underpin a systematic approach and continuous improvement, a responsible attitude to the environment is a core element of our health, safety and environment (HSE) management system.  

Risk analysis

Environmental protection is built into the planning process for all plant construction projects. Technical and organisational countermeasures are taken to guard against potential risks. Our facilities are monitored using intelligent systems that immediately spot deviations from normal operational status, and trigger automated responses that are followed up with prompt action by our well-trained staff. RAG uses state-of-the-art maintenance and management systems to monitor preventive environmental protection activities.

Low local impacts

During the risk analysis phase, nature conservation is addressed by performing an environmental analysis. Before a gas field development can go ahead, the site is carefully selected so as to minimise the amount of land used, as well as the emissions and the intrusion in the landscape.

Under the structured “greenfield to greenfield” process, which tracks the history of a field development from the first intervention in the virgin site, every single production system is tracked throughout every step of its operational life through to its abandonment and restoration as reflected in the administrative records and rights of way. 

Restoration of abandoned gas field developments
When a production system is no longer needed, official, and in particular mining law procedures, must be complied with to restore and abandon the site. After dismantling the technical installations and removing all foreign materials from the soil, the land is completely remediated and returned to its original greenfield state.

When constructing permanent facilities such as those for gas storage, we are committed to creating environ­mental compensation areas. We also aim to steadily extend our cooperation with public authorities, environ­mental protection experts, planners, local authorities and landowners, and to take account of their varying requirements and interests from an early stage.

Careful use of resources

We are committed to efficient and careful use of resources. The useful life of equipment, targeted and careful use of non-renewable resources, and reusing or recycling devices and products to support a sustainable circular economy are all priorities.

IT equipment is donated to the SOCIUS-Bündnis gegen Armut charity, which refurbishes them as part of a social labour project before passing them on to disadvantaged families. The waste disposal concept in place at the company is under constant review to ensure it is appropriate and up to date.

Sustainable procurement 

The code of conduct for suppliers and transparent procurement processes have already been covered in the “Responsible management” chapter of this report. The RAG procurement guidelines already take specific environmental criteria into account when selecting certain products. Starting in 2021, the Procurement Department plans to take step-by-step fully product life cycles into consideration, which includes sourcing renewable – and carbon neutral – electricity for RAG’s storage facilities. In the next two years, we will focus more closely on sustainability in relation to the following product groups: electricity, transportation, vehicle fleet and above-ground equipment.

To help raise awareness of sustainability-related factors in the supply chain, we want to invite stakeholders to participate in a sustainability dialogue and discuss potential solutions with us.

Goals & Measures: Download PDF