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Powering a more sustainable future with solar energy

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May 7, 2024

|4 min read
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Slowly but surely, the world is changing. Many countries worldwide have taken the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy seriously. And it is a challenging one. As energy needs grow year over year, so does the need to provide cheap electricity. That rush makes this transition to the production of sustainable energy even harder.

HOW SUSTAINABLE IS THE WORLD ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION NOW

Hannah Ritchie and Pablo Rosado have documented this trend and the associated challenges well. In their article “Electricity Mix”, published online at OurWorldInData.org in 2020 and revised in January 2024. The data they gathered offers a deep understanding of the changes that have happened. At the same time, it highlights the opportunities that we missed.

The share of electricity produced from coal is slowly decreasing. But gas as a source of energy is getting bigger and bigger. Both are fossil fuels, so a shift from one to another might not be a success. The most significant growth in the share of production comes from renewables, but some might say it is too little, too late.

For that reason, many countries are pushing for a quicker transition to renewable energy sources. On the one hand, they are issuing stricter regulations for producers that generate electricity with fossil fuels. On the other hand, they are promoting and subsidizing electricity production with renewable energy. This includes multiple electricity sources, including hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and wave and tidal.

However, legislators have only some of the power to decide what source we use for electricity production. But the tide is changing. With technological advancements in solar energy production, we, as individuals and businesses, have the opportunity to choose renewables. And that is what we at Modepack decided to do.

HOW DO WE SEE OUR ROLE IN SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION?

As a manufacturer of single-use products such as eCommerce, Courier, and Security packaging, we decided early on to focus our efforts on achieving sustainable production. One part of that story is choosing suitable materials for our products. We are proud to say that more than 90% of our products are made from recycled materials. We achieved this by implementing the Circular Mode concept, which involves recycling and transforming plastic waste into new products.

And the second part is addressing our energy needs. With a big factory that works in three shifts and can produce over 300,000,000 pieces yearly, our electricity needs are equally big. Generating our solar energy without relying solely on electricity supplied by the grid and produced by mixed sources was a pivotal step to sustainability. First, we planted the first solar flower in Croatia, which allows us to charge our electric cars with renewable energy. The second was to cover the factory roof with over 1,000 solar panels.

LET’S GET TECHNICAL!

Installing more than 1,000 solar panels was quite a task, and installers worked strenuously on it for a few weeks. Firstly, we needed to lift all those heavy panels onto our roof, and the crane was a perfect machine. Then, the installers started to do their magic. They carefully placed panels one by one and wired them until the entire roof was covered. Those wires lead to our mighty inverter, which sends power to our factory or to the grid.

Our electricity production will change as the sun changes its position throughout the year. We will cover up to two-thirds of our factory’s energy needs with over 400 kWh of power in months with longer days. Therefore, two-thirds of the products will be produced with our own renewable and sustainable energy. With that energy production, we will massively lower our carbon footprint and significantly contribute to our Circular Mode concept.

We considered installing a solar power plan for years but needed to wait for the right moment. Finally, 2023 was the right year to do it! Activities started early in 2023, as the project received co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund under the Operational Program Competitiveness and Cohesion. The total investment was over 300.000 €.

We launched the solar power plant in December 2023, close to the winter solstice. That meant the days were the shortest, and power production was the lowest. With each passing day, we are generating more electricity and are looking forward to seeing its full potential through the year.

But we don’t want to stop there. Our minds are thinking of other projects. Projects that will lead our company toward a business that can genuinely call itself sustainable. But that is another story.

May 7, 2024