Eneco has years of reporting experience. This is proving to be a boon as the CSRD directive nears, the tightened European regulations on sustainability reporting. The renewable energy provider is taking CSRD very seriously and letting its customers benefit from this momentum. ‘It’s a unique opportunity to grow your business and keep it relevant.’

Sustainability is a hot topic. In the coming years, more and more companies will have to report on the sustainability of their operations. Through its so-called CSRD (Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive) and the associated ESRS (European Sustainability Reporting Standards), Europe has defined what companies have to report and which reporting standards have to be met. For the three ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) components, that involves some 1,100 data points. At Eneco, a provider of 100 percent renewable electricity, they are busy preparing. ‘A company of our size must report in 2026 at group level for the 2025 financial year’, explains Legal and Regulatory Affairs Manager Ralf Weymans.

‘One thing is important to know: as a company, you don’t have to report on everything, but you do have to set priorities based on a materiality assessment. We ourselves expect a whole range of data points on which we need to collect information. We are not just looking at our own activities, but also at the entire value chain of suppliers and partners, at current and future risks, at the positive and negative impact, in the short, medium and long term.’

Fortunately, Eneco does not have to start from scratch. ‘We have been on a sustainable course since 2007 with our One Planet plans and their measurable sustainability goals. As a result, according to sustainability rating agency EcoVadis, we are already among the top 1 percent of best performing companies’, says Julie Otjacques, Head of Legal, Regulatory and Public Affairs. 

Tips and inspiration

Eneco also has experience in reporting. ‘For several years we have been following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a global standard for sustainability reporting. While this naturally means that we have already accumulated extensive experience, we still have quite a way to go. The past years have already taught us a lot about sustainability reporting. We want to share that experience with our customers.’

To inspire its customers, Eneco is hosting a Green Energy Summit on 6 February. ‘That’s mainly a call to action to get things started. We’ll be demonstrating our expertise in energy transition in all its forms’, says Ralf Weymans. Customers will find inspiration in wind turbines and solar panels, green electricity and charging stations, while reporting will also be covered. ‘Though we are not reporting consultants or advisors, we have quite a long growth process behind us, from which our customers can benefit.’

Opportunity to grow

Those who have not yet made sustainability a key focus of their business activities have a mountain of work ahead of them. How do you get started on that reporting? ‘While traditionally a lot of attention is paid to the ‘E,’ the environmental aspect, the ‘S’ and ‘G’ aspects should not be forgotten, such as corporate culture, executive compensation, relations with staff’, says Ralf Weymans. ‘Most companies have a lot of data on that. So that’s a good starting point.’

The start-up phase of the process is also the most difficult. ‘First, you have to conduct your materiality assessment. What is the impact of the environment on your business and vice versa? In consultation with your stakeholders, you determine where your priorities lie. Based on that, you need to map out your data points, identify any blanks, and figure out a way to collect that data in a seamless, automated way. That’s not always clear, especially if you have to start getting it from different business units and countries. But once you’ve got the process up and running, things can go smoothly.’ 

Above all, Europe’s intention with the directive is to gain greater transparency about sustainability and encourage companies to do better. ‘Remember, this is a reporting system and not a KPI system. You are not yet judged on how well you are doing. You just need to be transparent about your non-financial key figures. Even high-polluting companies can and must comply with this reporting requirement. Conversely, even the most sustainable company can get a bad audit if its reporting is not sound.’

No guesswork

It is not easy to find the right expertise to bring the process to fruition. Whom you involve in sustainability reporting depends on your activities and your materiality assessment, says Ralf Weymans. ‘If you’re focusing on diversity or work-life balance, then you’ll need people from your HR team. If you’re going to work on biodiversity, then you’ll need other departments.’

It is important to do it properly – no half measures. ‘Despite our experience with GRI reporting, we too are still searching. The first round is set to be a difficult one. We’ll be making it a priority, probably putting several full-time staff on it next year. In our view, that’s a must. And the figures get audited, so there’s no place for guesswork.’

Even so, as a company, you’ll do well not to view the CSRD and ESRS as an annoying expense. ‘Additional legislation is sometimes seen as yet another compliance exercise in an over-regulated industry’, observes Julie Otjacques. ‘But that’s not the right mindset. The CSRD is an opportunity to grow your business and stay relevant in a new social and economic reality.’ It’s about more than your reputation. ‘Indeed, banks are more inclined to loan money to sustainable companies. And rest assured, young job applicants will also judge you on your sustainability.’

Transparency has benefits for your operations as well. ‘It makes our business easier. Companies that pretend to be more sustainable than they actually are (greenwashing) won’t get away with it anymore if they don’t have sound data to back up their claims. Citizens and customers will benefit from greater transparency. If I find myself looking for a new partner for Eneco, I’ll definitely use that reporting.’

More than a bumper sticker

Many companies are struggling with implementing a sustainable strategy. How do you create the right mindset to deal with the CSRD? ‘In our experience, it is especially important to be very firm’, says Julie Otjacques. ‘If you can demonstrate that a sustainable course will make your company more attractive and profitable, that is usually convincing enough. As sustainability is in Eneco’s DNA, we also attract people with the right mindset. In any case, it is an important criterion in our selection. And once you get started, practice what you preach. The values we have established are not just bumper stickers but are lived throughout Eneco’s value chain.’