Fossil Fuel Free Electricity (completed in 2014)
In 2014, Biogen became the first life sciences company to achieve carbon neutrality, signing the renewable electricity (RE) RE100 pledge and shifting 100% of our electricity consumption to renewable sources.
We also have shifted our renewable electricity purchasing strategy to help expand the market and overall capacity for renewable energy generation. For example, we are negotiating a renewable virtual power purchasing agreement (VPPA) for our U.S. and Canadian facilities and fleet, and have signed a two-year direct contract for hydropower for our Cambridge, MA campus.
Learn more in our 2020 Year In Review
Biogen-Owned Facility Electrification (planned for 2025-2040)
Biogen maintains four large manufacturing and R&D facilities: one in Massachusetts, USA; two in North Carolina, USA; and one in Solothurn, Switzerland. Each of these facilities burns natural gas to heat, cook, generate steam and power our operations. Our engineering team is formulating strategies to operate these facilities without fossil fuel combustion by 2040. This may mean transitioning to electric heat pumps and steam generators or using technologies such as geothermal heating.
Our Massachusetts location currently houses a large natural gas cogeneration unit. Installed in 2006, this unit has significantly decreased our climate impact due to the efficiency gains of cogeneration of electricity and steam; however, emerging science points to health concerns associated with natural gas extraction, storage and combustion. With the rise of renewable electricity and technological improvements, we will sunset this approach and identify effective alternatives.
One of the more challenging components of building electrification will be backup power. As is common around the world, Biogen uses fuel oil powered backup generators. We will evaluate the feasibility of alternatives, such as lithium-ion batteries and green hydrogen, to meet our needs and ensure business continuity. Biogen has launched technical assessments of three major Biogen sites as the next step in fully decarbonizing our facilities.
Leased Facility Electrification (planned 2025-2040)
Biogen leases numerous spaces around the world. As these are rented facilities, we plan to work with the building owners on plans to eliminate their fossil fuel impacts – and, in some cases, we may relocate to buildings that already have.