Cynthia (CJ) Warner | President | CEO | Renewable Energy Group

Renewable Energy Group: Blending Environmental Stewardship with Profitable Solutions

Currently the world is witnessing the crisis of climate change, and if we do not act responsibly this crisis could rise exponentially. We are now in a time where we must act today, or the dangerous impacts of climate change could be irreversible. Renewable energy solutions could be one way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming renewable energy resources into high-quality, a cleaner fuel is an important factor in sustainability.

Renewable Energy Group (REG) is leading the energy industry’s transition to sustainability by transforming renewable resources into high-quality, cleaner fuels. Since its inception in 2006, Renewable Energy Group has blended environmental stewardship with profitable solutions.

In an interview with Insights Success, Cynthia (CJ) Warner, the President and CEO of REG shares the journey of the company and its contribution towards sustainable development. Below are the highlights of the interview between CJ and Insights Success:

What led to the inception of the company?

Renewable Energy Group can trace its roots back 25 years, when we operated under the umbrella of an agricultural cooperative in Iowa. Our biodiesel provided an added value for farmers by repurposing their vegetable oil by-product while at the same time bringing a more environmentally friendly fuel to market. We grew along with the biodiesel industry, and in August 2006, Renewable Energy Group, Inc., was formed as an independent corporation.

Describe your company and its energy solutions which address all the needs of your customers.

REG is a publicly traded global company with operations in the U.S. and Europe, including 12 bio-refineries. We are leading the energy industry’s transition to sustainability by transforming renewable resources into cleaner fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel, and a blend of those two known as REG Ultra Clean . These fuels help fleets lower their carbon footprint using their existing vehicles with no performance compromises.

How does your energy solution differ from others?

Unlike some alternatives, our fuels are not a solution whose promise sits somewhere in the future. They are available now at scale. Biodiesel, renewable diesel, and REG Ultra Clean do not require engine upgrades or new vehicle purchases. Also, they can be used in the same fueling infrastructure as petroleum diesel, so availability is not an issue. Our fuels offer lower carbon, ease of adoption and a good return on investment.

Please talk about your experience and how you’re trying to bring change to the energy management solutions.

I’ve worked in the energy industry for more than 35 years and have held executive positions in operations, business development, strategy, environment, health and safety. I joined REG as President and CEO two years ago because I wanted to work with a growing company that was taking a lead role in changing the industry for the better. Over my career, the needs of the environment have become greater and greater. We are now at a time in which we must act today, or the dangerous impacts of climate change could be irreversible. I am committed personally, and we have an innovative and passionate team at REG bringing energy solutions that can make a difference today.

Could you throw some light on company’s mission and vision statement?

REG is well positioned as the largest producer of biodiesel in North America and an industry-leading producer of renewable diesel to support the global energy transition to a cleaner future. REG delivers high-quality, innovative fuel solutions to our customers and our products are making a positive difference now.

How are advance technologies bringing disruption in energy industry?

For the energy industry to transform, it will take many solutions and many innovations. There is space and healthy competition for emerging markets. REG is well-positioned today to provide readily available solutions that are reducing carbon now. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are proven solutions for the diesel transport space today. As a producer of both fuels, we are able to lead in this way and provide real-time solutions to our customers looking to reduce carbon emissions.

What are the greatest challenges the energy industry facing and how are they best dealt with?

The greatest challenge is the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. Transportation is one the largest contributors of harmful GHGs. Governments, the private sector and the general public are all demanding that something must be done. As one example, look at the rise in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in recent years. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said last year that demand for action to address climate change has put us “on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” Energy companies need to offer climate solutions, and these need to help not just long term but also today.

What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions more resourceful?

REG has a robust research and development program. One example is research on potential new feedstocks that could generate even greater emissions reductions in the finished fuel. Our technology also allows us to make high-quality fuel from a variety of feedstocks, including used cooking oil, inedible corn oil and animal fats. This feedstock flexibility sets us apart in the industry and helps us to pivot quickly to other advantaged feedstocks, as necessary. Another example of our improving our operations is by finding clean power solutions, like using wind power as a source of energy.

Here are a few testimonials from REG customers:

“We are very customer-focused, and a lot of our customers have sustainability goals, and we want to support them by being a cleaner supplier. With biodiesel, you can start being cleaner without having to do any equipment or infrastructure changes.” – Ruan Transportation

“REG has a world-class laboratory with world-class professionals working there.” – Iowa Department of Transportation

“Biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group has the largest Potentially Avoided Emissions in the portfolio. The company is one of the top holdings in the fund by weight. Its products displace diesel, which emits around ~0.4 tons of carbon per barrel, and the company utilizes a waste-oriented feedstock model.” – DNB, Norway’s largest financial services group and a strong advocate for ESG investing.