The Climate Group’s Head of RE100, Sam Kimmins, writes from Taipei, where he has toured TCI’s rooftop solar array and presented the RE100 initiative.
The Taiwanese market is all about innovation. Many of the high-tech inventions you use on a daily basis – possibly the laptop screen or mobile phone you’re reading this on or the vitamins you took this morning – are likely to have come from here.
I came to meet TCI, manufacturer of dietary supplements, specialist drinks, and skin care products – and the first Taiwanese business member of RE100, The Climate Group’s corporate leadership initiative on renewables delivered with CDP. Together, we presented RE100 at the Link and Loop Conference in Tapei, bringing together global stakeholders to discuss new business models for the circular economy.
TCI is targeting 100% renewables by 2030 and already making real progress towards this goal. Chairman Mr Vincent Lin believes in long term planning; his business is growing by up to 50% per year, and he sees innovation and investment as crucial to long-term success.
Speeding off by bullet train to TCI’s LEED-Gold certified facility in Pingtung, I was kindly shown around a high-tech building topped by a significant rooftop solar array. I heard how the company is looking to reach 30% renewable electricity by 2020 through a mix of on-site renewables and power purchase agreements. It’s a model that other businesses can follow.
Opportunity for market change
The Taiwanese market is on the cusp of exciting change. With as much as 98% of its energy coming from heavily subsidised imported fossil fuels, it is looking to reduce its dependency on imports - reducing energy demand, switching to renewable electricity, and rolling out electric vehicles will all be key.
The Taiwanese energy system is undergoing a transformation. In fact, some argue it’s on brink of an offshore wind goldrush.
The opportunity is strong, but policy changes are needed if corporates are to invest at scale and reap the benefits of cheap renewables. The T-REC system, launched in 2017, is an essential step in creating corporate markets, but its certificates are quite pricey and in short supply – and may be soon gobbled up by RE100 multinationals seeking to achieve their 100% renewables ambition in the Taiwanese market.
This is where business comes in. By growing the RE100 initiative in the Taiwanese market, we can give local authorities the confidence that there is a strong corporate demand for renewables, with companies ready to invest and support new infrastructure. This will then enable a reduction of feed-in-tariff subsidies as the renewables market develops and prices drop – which in turn will enable a reduction in subsidy for expensive imported fossil fuel sources.
Growing RE100 impact in Asia
When travelling for work, it’s encouraging to see the (increasing number of) RE100 member logos as I walk through a new city. In Taipei, I spotted Burberry, H&M and Starbucks clustered around the incredible Tower 101, and had the pleasure of meeting members Apple and Tetra Pak in person.
Travel also, however, brings into focus the current US and European bias of RE100 – and the need to rapidly accelerate corporate sourcing of renewables among the leading brands in Asia.
With the help of local partners, we aim to change that situation. Companies here supply to some of the world’s biggest brands – RE100 members like Apple who are increasingly asking their suppliers to use renewable electricity. Engaging these companies is vital for achieving change at the scale and speed that is needed to address climate change, and RE100 membership can provide Taiwanese companies with a credible opportunity to demonstrate alignment with their supply-partners’ needs.
I look forward to visiting Taipei again, and to supporting TCI by growing a strong local community of new RE100 members, driving change towards a clean energy economy.
Coming soon: Sam writes from Japan, where he is meeting our growing community of RE100 members, and supportive government Ministers.