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  • “We need greater ambition on climate action – a spirit of collaborative partnership can get us there”

    As the UNFCCC climate talks take place in Bonn, Thomas Lingard - Global Director of Climate & Environment at Unilever – blogs on the Talanoa Dialogue and how the spirit of partnership can accelerate the clean energy revolution. Unilever is a member of EV100 and RE100.

    The signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 was a truly historic moment. Businesses, governments and activists across the globe came together to say yes: climate change is real, and it is happening – but we are going to act now to limit the damage and prevent its worst effects through a transformation of the global economy.

    This optimism has led a momentum on climate action which has seen businesses leading the way in accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy, alongside cities, regions, and national governments committing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

    But this cannot be done in siloes.  Governments find it hard to act when business appears opposed to change.  Businesses cannot accelerate action without ambitious policy frameworks that signal clearly the direction and speed of travel. That’s why, as the Bonn climate talks take place, we’re calling for stronger government policies that enable businesses to lead the clean energy transition.  Only by working together will we deliver the transformation needed to ensure a climate-safe and sustainable future.

    Innovation is driving rapid falls in the prices of renewable energy and investors are pulling support for fossil fuels. New research from the London School of Economics shows that all 197 signatories to the Paris Agreement now have at least one climate policy in place. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is showing that the low carbon transition is the only economic growth story for the future. New coalitions to end deforestation and drive transformation in food and land use are gaining traction. By all accounts, we are moving forwards.

    Yet despite all good intentions, our combined actions are not taking us far enough, fast enough. As the UN starts a new facilitative dialogue taking stock of the collective efforts to deliver the Paris Agreement, we want to see both businesses and governments setting new targets and raising the levels of ambition to ensure temperature levels do not cross the 1.5°C threshold.  By our reckoning this means a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

    Telling stories of greater ambition

    As the UN embarks on its next phase of discussions ahead of COP, one word in particular will be in focus: Talanoa, a Fijan term for inclusivity and collaboration, will frame the dialogue as one of mutual trust and sharing of progress.

    Promoting inclusivity is vital to urgently scale up ambition on climate action. The effects of climate change are felt differently across the globe, and we can only move forward collaboratively if that collaboration involves empathy.  

    Under the Talanoa dialogue, participants will focus on telling stories that facilitate action. At Unilever, we too can tell the story of how our partnerships – and those of other private sector actors – are enabling us all to accelerate the transformation towards a low-carbon future.

    Making business sense of emissions reduction

    As members of The Climate Group’s initiatives EV100 and RE100, the latter run in partnership with CDP, we stand alongside other global businesses to accelerate decarbonization. In doing so, we are not only driving our emissions reductions – but also making bold choices that benefit our business long-term. As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we are committed to be Carbon Positive in our operations by 2030 – supporting the generation of more renewable energy than we consume.  Through RE100, we’ve set interim targets for 100% grid sourced renewable electricity across our global operations by 2020, with 100% heat being achieved over the following decade.

     As a member of RE100, we envision a future where renewables are the mainstream choice of electricity for all global businesses, and where corporates are active participants in energy markets and policy debates. And together with others we know we can succeed. RE100 now counts over 130 global companies driving the renewables revolution.

     Through EV100, we are part of the movement making electric transport the new normal by 2030. By transitioning our fleet of 13,300 company cars to electric vehicles (EVs,) we are sending a strong market signal of demand for electric transport, helping to accelerate mass roll-out, bring down costs and make electric cars affordable for everyone across the globe.  

    These partnerships enable Unilever to take action on climate change, at the same time as future-proofing our business operations. However, to enable a global change which benefits all, more stories of ambition must be told - more businesses must engage in initiatives that shift expectations and drive new markets in clean energy and more governments must strengthen their policy frameworks to ensure success.

    Enabling conversations between businesses and governments

    Unilever is committed to achieving the commitments of the Paris Agreement in a way that secures sustainable growth and prosperity for all.  We’re not alone. A total of 712 companies in the We Mean Business coalition have made a total of 1,181 commitments to tackle climate change. To give you a sense of scale, the market capitalisation of these businesses is $16.7 trillion - more than 20% of the entire global economy. Collectively, these companies represent 2.62 Gt of emissions - equivalent to the total annual emissions of India.   

     Yet we need everyone to help grow our momentum, to champion the role of businesses and encourage their active participation in the clean energy transition. Most importantly, we need the parties at the UN climate talks to hold each other to account for enhanced policy ambition to deliver the Paris Agreement.

    The Fijian innovation of bringing Talanoa to the climate talks is a creative and much welcome development. By facilitating a platform for businesses, civil society and national governments to discuss policy barriers and the supportive regulations needed to enable clean energy markets, we can scale up ambition even further.

    By engaging not only in the process of Talanoa, but in the spirit of Talanoa, I am optimistic that we will foster a new spirit of partnership to tackle climate change and shift the global economy towards a better future for everyone.

    Thomas Lingard is Global Director, Climate & Environment at Unilever. He will participate in the Talanoa Dialogue in Bonn on Sunday 6 May.  Follow @thomaslingard for updates.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Newsletter: policy calls, high achievers and upcoming events - April 2018

    Powering ahead on policy 

    As final negotiations for the EU Renewable Energy Directive get underway, The Climate Group’s RE100 Campaign Manager Constant Alarcon urged the EU to match the high ambitions of RE100 members. We are also meeting with EU Member State representatives in Brussels to highlight the importance of Guarantees of Origins, to ensure companies can source renewables in a traceable, affordable way. Click here to find out more about our work on EU policy as part of the RE-Source Platform. 

    The Climate Group’s regional engagement partner Japan-CLP has backed a set of recommendations to the Japanese Foreign Minister for Climate Change, highlighting the business case for an ambitious renewable energy policy in Japan. Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at The Climate Group will be visiting Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in early June - please get in touch if you are based in the region.

    RE100 members hit targets and lead on climate policy     

    Congratulations to Apple on the announcement that all its global operations are now powered by 100% renewable electricity. In addition to reaching its RE100 target, the tech giant has also influenced 23 of its suppliers to commit to 100% renewable electricity.

    A new report has highlighted RE100 members Apple, AkzoNobel, DSM, Google, IKEA and Unilever as ambitious leaders in influencing helpful climate policy.


    Dates for your diaries

    April 26-27, 2018: SEIA Solar Goes Corporate, Boston, MA. This event by the Solar Energy Industries Association will inform businesses about solar and storage solutions. 

    May 24, 2018: Clean Energy Ministerial, Copenhagen. Working with IRENA and others, we will host an official event on corporate sourcing of renewable energy. The Climate Group will also hold an evening networking reception with Carlsberg Group to celebrate corporate leadership on renewables, energy productivity and electric vehicles.

    May 29, 2018: RE100/RMI technical webinar: Introduction to Corporate PPAs in the US. This webinar will cover the basics of deregulated US electricity markets and focus on the virtual power purchase agreement (PPA) structure.

    June 5-7 and August 23-24, 2018: Schneider Electric Perspectives Summit, Budapest and Nashville. We will join Schneider Electric at its Energy and Sustainability summits, arranging a special luncheon for attending RE100 members in each location.  

    June 14, 2018: FT Energy Transitions Strategies Summit, London. This event will explore the latest trends and issues impacting the global energy industry. 

    July 3, 2018: RE100 Landlords & Tenants – Unlocking Renewable Electricity Solutions, Burberry HQ, London. We will hold a collaborative workshop to help guide members sourcing renewable electricity in a landlord/tenant context.


    Coming soon

    Soon after Global Climate Action Summit (San Francisco, September 12-14), we will host CWNYC Climate Week NYC. RE100 members are invited to showcase the highest level of climate leadership on renewables at high level events. 

  • Blog: European businesses are acting on renewables – the EU must match their ambition

    The next 12 months will be critical for the future of the EU as a leader on climate and clean energy policy. As EU energy ministers are meeting in Sofia to discuss how to deliver a sustainable energy union, Constant Alarcon, RE100 Campaign Manager, The Climate Group explains how they should look to leading corporates for inspiration. More and more European businesses are making bold commitments and taking innovative, concrete actions to drive the clean energy transition.

    Thanks to pioneering and ambitious regulations like the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU has been among the driving forces in the fight against climate change and the deployment of clean power. The EU has even set a long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

    This leadership position, however, is not guaranteed – and progress on key issues in 2018 will determine whether the EU will remain an ambitious leader on clean energy and climate action.

    An uncertain leadership position?

    Negotiations on the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package, which will frame how clean energy develops between now and 2030, should be completed by the end of 2018. This involves recasting  the Renewable Energy Directive, and occurs at the same time as the European Council has asked the Commission to produce an updated 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan.  

    2018 will see global signatories to the Paris Agreement taking stock of their progress and reviewing their commitment. With the EU also adopting the next Multiannual Financial Framework – the post-2021 EU budget – billions of euros could be shifted towards the low-carbon economy and to climate-proof Europe’s infrastructure.

    European businesses getting the job done

    So where can we expect the EU to be at the end of 2018 – will it remain ambitious on climate and energy? The signals sent by policymakers are hard to read: whilst asking for an updated long-term strategy is an encouraging sign from the Council, supporting the very unambitious target of 27% renewable energy by 2030 is much less reassuring.

    Looking to the actions taken by global businesses should help European policymakers overcome any hesitation – the ambition they are showing is inspirational.

    RE100 now has 131 members globally, with 60 based in the EU. These companies have committed to bold targets to source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. In Europe overall, our RE100 Progress and Insight report shows that RE100 members are sourcing 61% of their electricity from clean sources – double the total EU average of 29.6%.

    RE100 will make an instrumental contribution to renewable energy targets: a recent BNEF report shows that current RE100 members represent an investment potential of $94 billion, and could add 87GW of wind and solar capacity globally by 2030 to meet their commitments.

    These companies are re-writing the rulebook of electricity sourcing and developing innovative new models. With companies such as Google, AkzoNobel, DSM and Royal Philips signing a joint PPA, or H&M providing top-finance for new projects through their renewable energy certificates, they are transforming Europe’s electricity system and adding renewable capacity to the grid. In Bulgaria, Dentsu Aegis Network is already sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewables – a strong signal sent to the EU Council’s Bulgarian Presidency that businesses are going further and faster.  

    Corporate leadership goes beyond renewable electricity, too: RE100’s two other corporate leadership initiatives at The Climate Group, EV100 and EP100, are developing at pace, with businesses committing to massively accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles and to double their energy productivity. As well as this, the Science Based Target Initiative announced that 100 companies have now adopted emissions reductions targets in line with the scale required by global climate goals, showing the unstoppable momentum for climate action among global businesses. 

    Companies driving political ambition

    What should European policy makers make of those achievements? Well, two things:

    Firstly, it should give them the confidence to go for the highest ambition possible when it comes to climate and energy targets. For the Renewable Energy Directive, that would mean getting closer to the European Parliament’s more ambitious proposal of 35% renewable energy by 2030. Going beyond the current target of 27% is both cost effective and comes with explicit socio-economic benefits for all Member States, according to both the Commission and IRENA. In December 2017, 11 of our members publicly expressed their support for a more ambitious renewable energy target.

    Pioneer companies are vocal in their support of political ambition: RE100 members AkzoNobel, Royal DSM, Unilever, Nestlé, Apple, Google, and Ikea have been praised for their leadership in actively supporting ambitious climate policies.

    Secondly, as the business case for engaging in the energy transition gets clearer and clearer, rule makers must ensure that the correct policy environments are in place to unlock and enable the full potential of corporate action.

    I wrote last month about disclosure and transparency mechanisms to support corporate action – this is particularly important in the EU where the fate of Guarantees of Origins (GOs, the EU renewable energy tracking system) is at stake in the Renewable Energy Directive. Ensuring mandatory allocation of GOs to all megawatts of clean power generated and avoid central auctioning is essential for companies to credibly claim that they are cleaning up their operations – and therefore catalysing more action from their peers.

    Leadership, ambition and pace is critically needed

    IRENA estimates that renewable energy needs to be scaled up at least six times faster for a climate-safe world. At their meeting in Sofia, let us hope that EU Member States feel inspired and emboldened by the pioneering companies embracing the low carbon transition. By adopting ambitious renewable energy targets, businesses can push the EU to continue leading the way in the energy transition and support the emergence of the energy systems of the future.

     

  • Apple hits RE100 target as all global facilities now run on 100% renewable electricity

    Apple’s global operations are now 100% powered by renewable electricity, the tech giant has revealed. This includes all data centers, retail stores and offices across 43 countries, and takes the company the final stretch from running on 96% clean power in 2017 to achieving its RE100 target.

    In 2016 as part of its journey towards 100% renewable electricity, Apple joined RE100, the global corporate leadership initiative on renewables led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. Going further, the company pledged to work on driving advocacy for clean energy policies and incorporating renewable targets into its manufacturing supply chain.

    Apple has now announced that 23 of its manufacturers are committed to operating on 100% renewable electricity for all their Apple productions. This includes nine new companies. The combined action by Apple’s suppliers represents a carbon saving of 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 – the equivalent of taking more than 300,000 cars off the road.

    Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group congratulated Apple on the news: “Apple's milestone achievement of reaching 100% renewable electricity is inspiration for the rest of RE100 – and for ambitious, forward-thinking companies everywhere. Apple has shown it can be done globally. Many more companies will be able to overcome barriers in more challenging markets if business has the support of policy makers.”

    "What's more is that Apple are bringing yet more of their supply chain with them in the switch to 100% renewables –  accelerating the pace of change. That's exactly the kind of corporate leadership we want and need to see if we are to keep global warming well under two degrees”.

    Accelerating change through the supply chain

    A report by RE100 highlighted the potential for accelerating market change when companies go beyond their own operations and engage their suppliers in the uptake of renewables. By doing so, large businesses can send stronger demand-side signals and shift policy, especially in markets where renewable electricity can still be challenging to source.

    In the report, Apple features as a leader on supply chain engagement. With its Clean Energy Portal, the company has developed an online platform to offer regional guidance which helps suppliers identify commercially viable renewable energy projects in the regions where they operate. More than 85 suppliers are currently registered, and Apple plans to scale up the process with a target of installing 4 GW of renewable electricity by 2020 to reduce manufacturing emissions globally.

    Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said: “We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

    As the wind blows and the sun shines

    Apple has met its RE100 target through a mix of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), on-site renewable generation and partnerships with local renewable electricity projects. The tech giant currently has 25 operational clean power projects across the world, adding up to 626 MW of generation capacity. 15 further projects are in construction and once built, the total capacity will be 1.4 GW.

    Examples of Apple’s renewable electricity projects include a 17 MW onsite rooftop solar installation at Apple Park; the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California; PPA’s for 200 MW wind in Oregon and 320 MW solar in Nevada; and a partnership with a local solar company in Japan to install 300 rooftop solar systems.

    A recent RE100 Progress and Insights Report found that PPAs are an increasingly common approach for RE100 members to source renewables around the world, with the proportion of renewable electricity consumed this way increasing by more than fourfold in just one year.

     Image courtesy of Apple

  • Newsletter: new members, major purchases and dates for your diaries

    More than 130 companies now part of RE100      

    RE100 passed the 130 members mark, with 131 leading companies now collaborating to increase renewable electricity demand. New members include AEON, Japan's largest retailer, and Watami from Japan, as well as Fifth Third Bank and Etsy from the US.

    A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that RE100 members will drive an investment of $94 billion in clean energy markets by 2030, adding 87 GW of wind and solar power to the grid worldwide.

    First wind power for RE100 club in the Netherlands   

    The Dutch Wind Consortium – AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Royal DSM, Google and Royal Philips – are now receiving power from the new Dutch wind farm Bouwdokken. The four companies signed two long-term Power Purchase Agreements in 2016 and 2017 to jointly source renewable electricity.

    Microsoft in huge solar deal

    Microsoft has announced the single largest corporate purchase of solar power ever seen in the US, signing an agreement with sPower to add 315 MW of electricity via two solar projects in Virginia.

    Growing the momentum for renewable electricity in Japan

    A recent report highlighted RE100 members Apple, Walmart, Microsoft, General Motors and ABInBev as companies leading global decarbonization efforts. A documentary by Japan’s NHK World also features interviews with Kellogg’s, General Motors and Head of RE100, The Climate Group, Sam Kimmins.

    Shifting policy frameworks

    Speaking on a panel at the Chatham House Energy Transitions conference in London, Head of RE100, The Climate Group, Sam Kimmins participated in conversations on how markets shift policy. At the RECS Market Meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, RE100 members ING, Philips Lighting and IKEA also highlighted the importance of supportive policy to enable corporate action on renewables - read more in our blog.


    Dates for your diaries

    April 9-10, 2018: BNEF Future of Energy Summit, NYC: BNEF’s annual summit explores the shifting forces in the energy system and the nexus of markets, industry and policy. RE100 member Google will be speaking on a panel about corporate energy challenges and solutions.

    April 11, 2018: X Energy, London: Speakers to include RE100 members Heathrow and BT, and The Climate Group’s CEO Helen Clarkson.           

    April 11-13, 2018: BRC Member Event, Jersey City: This event will facilitate sessions from innovators in renewable energy transactions. RE100 will be hosting two roundtable discussions.

    May 24, 2018: Clean Energy Ministerial, Copenhagen: The Climate Group will host a reception with RE100 member Carlsberg Group at this year’s CEM, as well as a separate RE100 event on corporate renewables sourcing.


    Coming soon 

    Climate Week NYC (September 24-30, 2018) will once again provide RE100 members the opportunity to showcase climate action. To find out how you can get involved visit climateweeknyc.org or contact us here.

    RE-Source 2018, Amsterdam (November 20-21, 2018) will bring together multinational corporations, renewable energy developers and senior decision-makes to raise awareness, exchange information and facilitate connections.

    And finally...   

    Interested in saving energy while going 100% renewable? Register for The Climate Group’s EP100 webinar with Manufacture 2030 and Woolworths April 25, 15:00 hrs BST. Register here.

  • Tech giant Microsoft signs largest corporate solar agreement in the US

    Microsoft has announced the single largest corporate purchase of solar power ever seen in the US, signing an agreement with sPower to add 315 MW of electricity via two solar projects in Virginia.

    Microsoft has been powered by 100% renewable electricity since 2014. In 2015, the tech giant joined RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, now bringing together 130 ambitious companies committed to sourcing entirely renewable power.

    In 2016, Microsoft set further ambitious targets to source clean electricity for its datacenters directly from local sources of energy; 50% by the end of 2018 and 60% by early 2020.

    Raising the company’s total renewable energy portfolio to 1.2GW, the new agreement with sPower puts Microsoft firmly on track to meet these goals, whilst simultaneously supporting the growth of the solar industry in Virginia.

    Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group said: “Huge congratulations to Microsoft on a great achievement. This is powerful leadership from a RE100 pioneer – bringing new solar capacity onto the grid will both benefit their business strategy and accelerate a market shift to renewables.

    He added, “This project is a clear illustration of how supportive policy environments enable corporate renewable electricity off-takers to invest at scale, driving competitiveness and speeding up the transition to a zero emissions economy.”

    Harnessing the power of the sun

    When fully operational, the Pleinmont I and II projects will consist of more than 750,000 solar panels spread across more than 2,000 acres, producing approximately 715,00 MWh per year. They are part of a larger 500 MW solar project, the biggest solar development in Virginia.

    On signing the agreement, Brad Smith, President, Microsoft, said: “This project means more than just gigawatts, because our commitment is broader than transforming our own operations; it’s also about helping others access more renewable energy.”

    As costs of wind and solar power fall rapidly and approach grid parity, businesses are increasingly seeing the benefits of investing in renewable electricity to source both their own energy needs and facilitate more clean power coming onto the grid.

    A recent RE100 Progress and Insights Report reveals the rise of corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) as a method for such procurement, with the use of PPAs increasing fourfold amongst RE100 members in one year.

    Governments and businesses working together

    Recent research for the RE100 initiative shows the greatest increase in PPAs is seen in regions where legislative frameworks are most favorable, notably the US, Mexico, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.

    With Virginia being a signatory of the Under2 Coalition, a global network of sub-national governments committed to climate action for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, the state has expanded significant efforts to cut emissions and drive clean energy investment. Working with Microsoft to facilitate new solar capacity entering onto the grid is part of this process.

    “When companies like Microsoft invest in Virginia solar, they opt for clean and reliable energy as well as new jobs in the energy economy we are working hard to build”, said Governor Ralph Northam.

    “I am proud that Microsoft is expanding its commitment to solar energy in Virginia, and I look forward to building upon this victory for clean energy and the jobs that come with it.”

     

     

  • Dutch Wind Consortium receives first power from new wind farm in the Netherlands

    A new milestone in corporate renewables procurement has been reached, as the Dutch wind consortium – consisting of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, DSM, Google and Royal Philips – received its first power from the new Bouwdokken wind farm in the Netherlands.

    In October 2016 and January 2017, the four companies signed two long-term corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) to jointly source power from the Krammer and Bouwdokken Wind Parks, which will have a total capacity of more than 140 MW. The latter of these two projects delivered generation to the companies for the first time this week.

    All four companies are members of RE100, a collaborative initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, which unites the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.

    Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group, said: “Congratulations to Akzonobel, DSM, Google and Royal Philips – this is a fantastic show of leadership by RE100 members that makes total business sense. The success of the Consortium sends a powerful signal to utilities that corporate off-takers want affordable access to renewables – and fast. By collaborating with like-minded, ambitious peers, these pioneers are accelerating market change and driving a zero-emissions economy. It is also sends a powerful signal to governments that businesses are prepared to make long term commitments to support large scale renewable infrastructure, in regions where government policy allows the market to operate freely.”

    Powering ahead on renewables

    The collaboration between AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, DSM, Google and Royal Philips to directly contract wind farm developers for their renewable electricity needs is the first of its kind in the Netherlands. By partnering through a consortium, the companies supported the construction of two large scale wind farms with a capacity equal to powering approximately 140,000 households.

    “We brought together a group of companies that is united in its sustainability leadership,” Marcel Galjee, Energy Director, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals said on behalf of the consortium. “We believe it is of utmost importance to join forces and come up with innovative partnerships to achieve the sustainability goals of our companies as well as those set out in the Paris climate agreement.”

    Harry Coorens, VP Procurement Sustainability, Royal DSM, added, “I receive questions from all over the world to explain this success story. It is a prime example to show an industry drive and collaboration that supports a mutual goal; creating a cleaner environment for people today and generations to come.”

    Reasons to act

    A survey of RE100 members in 2017 revealed that management of greenhouse gas emissions and CSR concerns ranked as the top drivers for companies to set 100% renewable electricity goals, considered as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ by 99% and 97% of respondents, respectively.

    However, the economics of renewable energy came a close third, cited as ‘very important’ or ‘important’ by 88% of responding members. Improving market value and generating wider reputational benefits are also important considerations.

    “As a purpose-driven health technology, a healthy planet is central to our mission”, explained Simon Braaksma, Senior Director of Group Sustainability, Royal Philips. “We are making good progress to decouple economic growth from our environmental impact.”

    Google reached 100% renewable electricity towards the end of 2017, and is now using its global voice and weight as a large energy user to help green the grid and accelerate market change. “As a company, we are continuing to push innovation for corporate renewable energy procurement,” said Marc Oman, EU Energy lead, Google Global Infrastructure.

    The rise of PPAs

    For Royal Philips, the two wind farms together will power 100% of their business operations in the Netherlands. Akzonobel Specialty Chemicals, which already sources 45% renewable electricity, will use the supply to produce chlorine, caustic soda and “green hydrogen” at its site in Rotterdam.

    A recent RE100 Progress and Insights Report revealed a rapid increase in the use of PPAs by RE100 members between 2015 and 2016, with procurement growing fourfold from 3% to 13%. According to 2016 data, BT, Equnix, Microsoft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble and Walmart source the highest share of their renewable electricity consumption through PPAs.

    In 2016-17 the greatest increase in PPAs by RE100 members were in regions where legislative frameworks are most favorable, including the US, Mexico, UK, Ireland and the Netherlands – where the Consortium is based.

  • Blog: How transparency and supportive policy can enable business action on renewables

    As global companies and experts meet in Amsterdam to discuss the tracking of renewable electricity, Constant Alarcon, RE100 Campaign Manager, The Climate Group, makes the case for transparency and supportive policy frameworks to unlock the full potential of corporate renewable electricity sourcing in Europe and around the world.

    The amount of new solar and wind capacity installed globally increased from 129 gigawatts (GW) in 2016 to 154 GW in 2017. Investments in renewable energy and energy smart technologies were up 3% to reach $333.5bn in 2017. At the same time, renewables costs continued to fall, and the lowest prices ever for solar PVs were achieved in Mexico.

    Clean power is up, costs are down. It’s a real opportunity for investors to get more for less, said the UN Environment chief. And with renewables reaching or exceeding cost parity with brown-power in many markets, we are approaching a tipping point for a cleaner, more prosperous economy.

    But we are not there yet. We need to go faster.

    COMPANIES LEADING THE WAY

    Through RE100, a global initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, corporate electricity users are accelerating the shift to renewable energy. Our membership now includes 128 leading companies committed to 100% renewable electricity, creating more than enough demand to power Poland or New York State.

    They are progressing towards their objective: in Europe, 61% of the electricity they use is already generated from renewable sources (twice higher than the EU average of 29.6%) – more than in any other region where RE100 members operate.

    At the RECS Market Meeting in Amsterdam this week, our members have been explaining what it means for them to be market leaders.

    IKEA Group has been a long-term champion of renewable electricity, co-founding RE100 in 2014, to facilitate collaboration between companies to stimulate and accelerate broader corporate action. Now the retailer is looking to bring its suppliers on board.

    Philips Lighting has been pushing the boundaries of what is feasible by developing the first renewable energy certificates of the Gulf Region. The company is also vocal about its sustainability commitments in policy conversations, in support of more ambitious climate and energy regulations.

    ING favors renewable energy in its investment decisions and is shifting away from coal-fueled power plants, the most polluting way of generating electricity.

    And Colruyt Group's approach goes hand in hand with its strategy to offer best cost to consumers shopping in its stores. Put simply, its investments in renewables are reducing its prices.

    TRANSPARENCY AND DISCLOSURE

    Progressing towards their 100% objective gives forward-thinking businesses the confidence to be bolder on renewable electricity. But they also need and want to be able to claim it.

    The existence of an EU-wide credible tracking mechanism for renewable energy has been critical to motivate companies to take aggressive action and to secure rapid progress. The system of ‘Guarantees of Origin’ (GOs) enables businesses to make credible claims about their renewable electricity consumption.

    In our recent RE100 Progress and Insights report however, traceability issues and the lack of widely available renewable energy certificates were quoted by our members as significant barriers to achieving their target in other markets.

    Fortunately, credible certificate systems like the International RECs Standard or TIGRs (Tradable Instruments for Global Renewables) are becoming more widely available. In February 2017, China’s National Development and Reform Commission announced the launch of a national and governmental pilot market.

    SUPPORTIVE POLICIES TO CATALYZE ACTION

    While those developments are going in the right direction, Europe might be about to head exactly the opposite way. As the EU Commission, Council and Parliament progress their ‘Trilogue’ negotiations on the next Renewable Energy Directive, the fate of GOs – so critical in enabling corporate renewable energy sourcing in Europe – is uncertain, due to the diverging views of the Parliament and the Council.

    In December 2017, 11 RE100 members wrote to EU Energy Ministers, asking them – among other things – to establish a fully functioning GOs system.

    First, this means that the use of GOs for renewable electricity disclosure must be mandatory – to avoid unsubstantiated and non-credible claims. Second, and critically, all produced renewable electricity should receive GOs – whether or not government support was given to the producer.

    In addition, countries should avoid the mandatory auctioning of GOs for supported production. It is essential to maintain the link between the production of renewable electricity and the corresponding certificate.

    FORWARD-THINKING GOVERNMENTS

    Our recent RE100 survey shows that policy barriers – not cost, or calls for subsidy – are the most common challenge for committed companies.

    Leading companies are playing their part, but they need governments to ensure that enabling policies are in place to unlock corporate investment at scale. Ensuring the traceability of renewable electricity purchasing is an example of structural regulation that can accelerate corporate action on renewables.

    Policy visibility, certainty and stability are also vital for companies to make long-term decisions about their electricity supply. This is why 11 of our members have called on the EU Council to back the 35% 2030 renewable energy target adopted by the Parliament. Recent analysis from the Commission and IRENA show that going beyond the 27% target voted by the Council is cost effective and bears large socio-economic benefits for all Member States.

    Companies must also be allowed to directly participate in electricity markets. Our recent RE100 report shows that in the US, 20% of the renewable electricity consumed by RE100 members is sourced through power purchase agreements (PPAs), in which producers and buyers directly negotiate a contract. This results in direct addition of renewable capacity to the grid.

    By contrast, in Europe the lucrative corporate PPA market is largely untapped – representing only 4% of our members’ renewable power consumption. The Renewable Energy Directive can unlock this potential by requiring Member States to get rid of all administrative and regulatory barriers to PPAs and clearly take them out of legal ‘grey’ areas that create uncertainties and risk for companies.

    BOOMING GROWTH

    RE100 members are putting themselves at the forefront of change, and they will catalyze US$94 billion in renewable electricity investment by 2030, adding up to 87 gigawatts of wind and solar energy to the grid.

    Ambitious, leading multinationals are already driving the transition to clean energy. Governments can empower thousands more to and ensure that the clean economy not just grows, but booms.

  • First RE100 member to go 100% renewable through a single solar power project

    Fifth Third Bank has joined RE100 and is set to become the first member company to achieve 100% renewable electricity through a single solar power project. The US financial services company will fulfill its goal through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA), covering its entire power consumption.

    As well as being a first for the RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, the bank will also become the first publicly-traded company to purchase 100% of its power through solar alone.

    The project, led by SunEnergy1, will be constructed in Hertford County, North Carolina – a state Fifth Third Bank operates within. Expected to come online in late 2018, the 80 megawatt (MW) solar plant will generate around 194,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year.

    As well as employing approximately 1,000 people for construction, it is expected to avoid 144,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) each year, equivalent to emissions generated by over 21,600 homes or 30,800 cars.

    Image: courtesy of Fifth Third Bank

    “This initiative affirms our bold commitment to advance environmental stewardship on behalf of customers, employees and shareholders,” said Greg Carmichael, Chairman, president & CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp. “This innovative project will reduce Fifth Third’s carbon footprint and benefit the communities we serve. In addition, this project is expected to increase earnings, demonstrating that companies can ‘do well by doing good.’”

    Fifth Third’s leadership was praised by Amy Davidsen, Executive Director – North America, The Climate Group, who attended the company’s announcement at the NASDAQ Opening Bell in Times Square, New York City.

    “We applaud Fifth Third for joining RE100 and for becoming the first member company to contract for 100% solar power,” she said.

    “By achieving its 100% renewable energy goal four years early, Fifth Third is demonstrating that there is a strong business case for solar, that corporate leadership on renewables is accelerating, and that faster greenhouse gas emissions cuts are possible – this will inspire more companies to follow suit”.

    Image: Amy Davidsen, Executive Director – North America, The Climate Group (left) with Tayfun Tuzun, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Fifth Third BanCorp (right)

    Fifth Third sees going 100% renewable as an ambitious next step in its business strategy. “For years, Fifth Third has worked to become more sustainable by using energy more efficiently and by lending to the solar energy industry. Today we take great pride in becoming the first Fortune 500 company—and first US bank - to buy as much solar power as we use in a year,” said Scott Hassell, Vice President and Director of Environmental Sustainability, Fifth Third Bank

    He added, “And we are thrilled to be on track to achieve our 100% goal this year, four years ahead of schedule. ”

    A diversifying energy market

    Corporate PPAs are on the up, according to recent RE100 research. The latest RE100 report ‘Approaching a tipping point: how corporate users are redefining global electricity markets’, shows that procurement of renewables through PPAs increased more than fourfold amongst RE100 members in 2016, providing a weighty 2,362,056 MWh of consumption in the US compared to 8,732 MWh in 2015.

    The rapidly falling costs of wind and solar power are enabling businesses to translate their renewable electricity commitments into tangible investments. On top of this, companies are beginning to realize the active role they can play in contributing additional renewable power capacity to the grid.

    Globally, the greatest increase in PPAs is seen in regions where legislative frameworks are most favourable, notably the US, Mexico, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.

    Fifth Third Bank becomes the 128th member of RE100. As more and more companies join the campaign and commit to 100% renewable electricity, corporate demand for renewables continues to grow, helping to open markets and ultimately accelerate the transition to a zero-emissions economy.

    Find out more about RE100 members here.

    By Elly Dinnadge

  • Newsletter: growing demand, knowledge sharing and upcoming events

    RE100 membership goes from strength to strength

    At the time of writing, RE100 has 127 members with a total electricity demand greater than that of Egypt, at over 161TWh/year. We're delighted to welcome Daiwa House, Japan’s largest housebuilder, who has become the first construction company to join both RE100 and The Climate Group’s energy productivity campaign, EP100, leading the way with a joined-up approach to achieving cleaner, smarter energy. In another first, biomedical products manufacturer TCI has become the first Taiwanese company to join RE100. Visa has also joined RE100 with an ambitious goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2019. We also welcomed global investment manager Schroders to the campaign.

    Amplifying the voice of corporate off-takers in Brussels

    As part of our work to ensure access to 100% renewable electricity in Europe through the Clean Energy Package, we have joined other initiatives to call on the EU to strengthen the Guarantees of Origin system for renewables. Speaking at an event in Brussels, Belgium, hosted by Mars, RE100 Campaign Manager, Constant Alarcon, underlined the importance of supportive policy frameworks for member states and called on the Council to support the 35% renewable energy goal for 2030 voted through by the European Parliament.

     

    Knowledge sharing webinar: new tool for companies

    RE100 and the Business Renewables Center (BRC) hosted a webinar looking at renewables and energy optimization for commercial buildings. Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has developed tools for companies who own or rent commercial buildings to invest in on-site solar, energy efficiency and energy storage, which could help many RE100 members with offices or warehouses to get closer to their 100% goal in the US.

     

    Supply chains: RE100 report available in Mandarin

    Our Going Beyond report is now available in Mandarin. The report gathers the experiences and guidance of three RE100 members – Apple, BT Group and IKEA Group – to demonstrate what companies can do to overcome challenges and engage their suppliers in the transition to 100% renewable power. A big thank you to Apple for arranging translation.


    Dates for your diaries

    March 5, 2018: Corporate Renewable Energy Sourcing – The Future of PPAs in Europe, webinar. The Re-Source Platform, of which RE100 is a founding partner, will update on the EU Clean Energy Package and present solutions to policy barriers. Speakers include Royal Philips. Click here to register.

    March 13-14, 2018:  REC Market Meeting 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands - This is the global expert meeting on energy attribute tracking systems, bringing together market players, government officials and other stakeholders active in developing renewable energy markets. Speakers to include ING, Philips Lighting and other RE100 members.     

    March 14-15, 2018: Solar Power Summit 2018, Brussels, Belgium – This is a unique opportunity to discuss policy, business and technology changes in the solar sector, identify market trends and opportunities, and network with renowned sector analysts, experts and key industry stakeholders. To register click here.

    March 19-20: Chatham House’s Energy Transitions 2018, London: this third annual conference will bring together leading policy-makers, business leaders and industry experts to assess the potential for new leadership in the transition towards a low carbon future. Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at The Climate Group, will be on a panel. Register here to attend.


    Coming soon

    Climate Week NYC (September 24-30, 2018) will once again provide RE100 members the opportunity to showcase climate action. To find out how you can get involved visit climateweeknyc.org.

    RE-Source 2018, Amsterdam (November 20-21, 2018) will bring together multinational corporations, renewable energy developers and senior decision-makes to raise awareness, exchange information and facilitate connections.