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