Sustainability Linked Instrument with corporate & local KPIs
ACCIONA creates financing instruments that are subject to clear and transparent criteria, pursue economic and sustainable/green objectives, and deliver additional local impact
ACCIONA is a Spanish multinational conglomerate dedicated to the development and management of infrastructure (construction, water, industrial, and services) and renewable energy. The company strives to lead a new sector delivering sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by a development model that traditionally depletes resources. It operates to build a better future in more than 40 countries worldwide by providing for basic infrastructure, water, and energy needs through innovative solutions that generate progress and a positive impact.
ACCIONA shares the market’s dissatisfaction with the current state of sustainable finance practices and seeks to address some of these potential shortfalls by developing new ‘business as unusual’ sustainable finance solutions. As a result, the Group has developed an innovative Sustainable Impact Finance Framework to deliver positive incremental impacts that traditional instruments lack.
The framework introduces a new ‘Dual Impact’ structure that covers Green Use of Proceeds and Sustainability-Linked financing structures, as well as a new Local Impact feature that, when combined with more traditional structures, has the potential to deliver enhanced positive environmental and/or social outcomes. Additionally, the framework outlines a clear set of rules and commitments with respect to grey areas in common market practice based on the European Taxonomy regulation, among other factors.
In this case, the sustainability-linked nature of the loan is subject to the alignment of at least 90% of ACCIONA CapEx with the European Taxonomy and an additional local impact indicator of annual purchases of low/zero-carbon materials and supplies. In relation with the local KPI selected, ACCIONA acknowledged that the emissions associated with corporate supply chains are, on average, 11.4 times higher than operational emissions (1). As a result, the company decided to include a local KPI related to an early adopters program that contributed to the creation of new market conditions for zero/low-carbon emission supplies, a challenging objective considering the conventional materials used in the infrastructure industry (concrete, steel, etc.) are among the hardest to abate.
ACCIONA, through its type IV financing structure (please refer to the graph below), has a dual impact by issuing sustainability-linked financing with a local impact component:
In this case, as mentioned above, the sustainability-linked nature of the loan is tied to a corporate Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and the local impact component to an additional local KPI:
Corporate KPI: Average >90% of eligible CapEx aligned with the EU Taxonomy Regulation
Local KPI: Number of purchases carried out within eligible local projects that meet the applicable decarbonization thresholds to be considered zero carbon/low-carbon
From a financial perspective, the idea behind the structure is that a financial step-down is provided to ACCIONA by the financial institutions in case the local impact annual targets defined in the framework are achieved, and at the same time, the discount is directed by ACCIONA to accomplish the local KPI targets defined. In this case, the discount obtained is directly destined for the purchase of zero/low-carbon products used on its projects, pushing the supply of these products forward in a market that is still emerging.
Additionally, ACCIONA provides in-depth detail of the rationale, applicable scope, calculation methodology, and calibration of the sustainability performance targets for all its local KPIs to increase transparency and trust. For example, in this case, it clearly defines that zero/low-carbon purchases must comply with the following requirements:
Energy: Purchases, including zero fossil fuels and those that do not incorporate emissions into ACCIONA's inventory Scope 1 or 2 emissions, according to the GHG protocol methodology
Cement and Concrete: Purchases where GHG emissions intensity fall below 70% cement and concrete product average provided by IPCC AR6
Steel: Purchases where GHG emissions intensity fall below 50% of the steel product average provided by IPCC AR6
Machinery: Vehicles or machinery used in project operations that are fully electrified or H2 equipment. Hybrid diesel or gas fueled equipment are not considered zero emissions
Offsetting: Not permitted in any case. Carbon removals are only accepted when they meet the requirements set by the SBTi corporate net-zero standard
Currently, this type of instrument, consisting of an SLL with a local impact component related to low/zero-carbon supplies, is linked to four different financing products, with a total value exceeding €600M. The transactions, as well as their performance against the defined targets, can be found in ACCIONA's annual Sustainable Finance Report.
Targeted emissions sources
The corporate KPI, which is verified annually in ACCIONA’s Sustainable Finance Report included in this case study ensures that 90% of ACCIONA eligible CapEx is Taxonomy-aligned and therefore, contributes to a more sustainable environment as a whole. In addition to this corporate KPI, the company has other strong sustainability related commitments. In this regard, ACCIONA signed the Climate Pledge (TCP) in 2021 and reinforced its Net Zero commitment in 2022, intending to reach Net Zero by 2040 for Scope 1 and 2 (market-based) emissions and by 2050 for its Scope 3 emissions, as validated by SBTi.
Last of all, the local KPI included in this case study contributes to the tangible abatement of Scope 3 GHG emissions from ACCIONA, as it reduces the amount of GHG emissions derived from the supply chain of the projects. At the corporate level, ACCIONA seeks to achieve a reduction of Scope 3 emissions of 47% for 2030 in absolute terms, compared to 2017.
The corporate KPI included in the financing scheme contributes to the use of the European Taxonomy in a market which lacked standardization and is moving toward a common definition of “sustainable activities” provided by the European Commission. In the long term, this might provide ACCIONA an advantageous position with investors by having more than a 90% of CapEx aligned with the European Taxonomy and therefore, being recognized as sustainable.
In addition, the local KPI defined contributes to the creation of new market conditions for zero/low-carbon emission supplies, a challenging objective considering the conventional materials used in the infrastructure industry (concrete, steel, etc.) are among the hardest to abate and are now starting to emerge across the world. This opens a window of opportunities in the sector and continues to position ACCIONA as one of the most recognizable leaders in green solutions.
The solution is designed to cover the extra costs derived from investments that allow for the successful implementation of the local impact initiative. In this way, ACCIONA does not assume an extra cost but uses its advantageous position as a positive impact generator to modify financial instruments to benefit local communities, without assuming an extra cost for either party.
Indicative abatement cost
The abatement cost depends largely on the initiative taken in the project: green supplies, electric machinery, HVO, etc. Please refer to ACCIONA’s TCFD report (p.32) for more information on the abatement costs of some of the measures taken.
Impact beyond climate and business
Taking this financing scheme as an example, which is linked to four financing products (with a total added value exceeding €600M), ACCIONA is complying with the local KPI defined and has invested more than €394K on low/zero-carbon supplies. The following timeline is updated annually in ACCIONA’s Sustainable Finance Report, and shows the company’s performance against the targets established:
This solution contributes to the decarbonization of ACCIONA's operations and activates green market levers within the construction sector, which produces emissions that are difficult to reduce. In addition, it contributes to demonstrating the company's leadership in the sector, which fuels engagement with suppliers and employees from different functions, including finance, operations and the project team itself, which is contributing to the transition toward decarbonization and generating a differentiating element in the sector. ACCIONA is taking action in countries where these types of initiatives have not been developed, and is therefore driving change that other companies can follow.
Australia’s first fully electric piling rig
ACCIONA purchased a Liebherr LB 30 ‘Unplugged’ pilling rig in Australia at the end of 2022. This new rig will produce zero emissions, thanks to its ability to operate via battery power or conventional electricity. It also has the advantage of no engine noise, which helps address noise pollution concerns.
The purchase of this zero-emission machinery contributes to the accomplishment of the Local Impact performance target, moreover it aligns with ACCIONA’s Sustainability Master Plan 2025 goal to achieve a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030.
Typical business profile
Any company can use this type of financing scheme if it believes in the opportunities sustainability brings to the market and its own business. For it to be successful, the only requirement is to have firm sustainability commitments, which will allow the company to approach financial institutions with similar values and beliefs. Once this connection is made, it will be feasible to negotiate a stepdown on the financing scheme with the involved financial institutions, which will allow the company to provide additional value to local communities. The appetite of financial institutions may vary in different geographies, although those with greater climate and sustainability commitments are more likely to collaborate on the development of this type of financial instrument.
To implement the solution, the following steps can be followed:
Perform an in depth analysis of the company’s future project pipeline: geography, socioeconomic background, concerns, and interests of the stakeholders involved, and feasibility of the measures that could be taken
Develop the financing instrument adapted to the opportunity studied: nature of the instrument (e.g. SL, green), addition of a local impact component, and definition of the required structure (e.g. discount, timeline)
Engage with local and international financial institutions that believe in the idea and have similar interests and corporate values
Create and develop the instrument in collaboration with the parties involved
It is important to consider that this is a brief summary of the most common steps that can be observed at the highest level. Each project is different and adapting to the needs of each one is key.
Finance Department: Design of the financial mechanism that enables discounts
Procurement Department: Identify potential green options to be aligned with the KPI
Project Management: Implement and verify the feasibility of materials
Sustainability Team (Business Development): Communicate the potential options and benefits derived from the KPI to clients
Sustainability Team (Sustainable Markets): Create the financing frameworks to facilitate green/sustainable debt issuance
Financial institutions involved
External verification providers
Other stakeholders (e.g. financial advisors)
Implementation and operations tips
The main challenges faced are associated with the availability and use of materials or items purchased through this mechanism. Sometimes, the use of alternative materials or machinery, for example, can generate a conflict arising from the difference in the use of each product. Electric machinery, for example, requires a modification of traditional practices in its use: charging times, driving or use, etc. In this regard, ACCIONA works with project managers and suppliers to ensure there is adequate knowledge of the new product so that it can be introduced as easily as possible.