The RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has co-organised a major event in China featuring members Apple, Google, H&M, and Philips Lighting, to demonstrate unstoppable business demand for renewable energy.
Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day, an official side event of the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) in Beijing, saw RE100 join forces with leading companies, governments and international partners, to highlight the progress of the private sector in growing China’s renewable energy market and accelerating a low carbon economy.
The event comes as global energy policy network REN21 published a new report showing record renewable energy capacity in 2016 installed at lower cost, thanks to the falling prices of solar and wind power.
Going 100% renewable
“The business case for switching to renewables is stronger than ever,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group, who introduced the morning’s discussions.
“Over the last year we’ve seen more and more companies join RE100 and commit to the highest level of leadership on renewable power – it’s affordable and reliable, and makes sense financially.”
RE100’s 96 members are now collectively creating demand for around 128TWh of renewable electricity annually – around the same amount of energy needed to power Argentina. Many of these leading companies aim to reach 100% renewable electricity before 2024 – and several have already got there.
Photo: Moderator Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General, IRENA talks with Griffin Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of State; Robert Andrén, Director-General Energy, Swedish Ministry of Environment and Energy; Li Junfeng, Former Director, China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation; Katie Hill, Head of Global Supplier Clean Energy Program, Apple; Marsden Hanna, Lead Global Energy Policy and Markets, Google and Pascal Brun, Global Production Sustainability Manager, H&M.
Speaking at the event, Marsden Hanna, Lead Global Energy Policy and Markets, Google, said the internet giant was on track to reach 100% renewable electricity by the end of this year. The company is using a combination of Power Purchase Agreements and installed solar photovoltaics.
Katie Hill, Head of Global Supplier Clean Energy Program, Apple – now 96% renewable – explained that 70% of Apple's carbon impact lies in its supply chain, so it makes sense to help its suppliers to transition to 100% renewable electricity.
As Hill spoke, Apple announced the biggest clean energy commitment seen yet from its suppliers; US manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc., which has facilities located in China. Jabil uses around 1 billion megawatt-hours of electricity per year, and will convert this to renewables by the end of 2018.
“We see real momentum here,” Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Apple, told Chinese news website Xinhua. “Jabil has already achieved 67% renewable energy for its Apple production, so the work they are doing now is really advancing the green transition in China.”
Hanna and Hill were joined on stage by Pascal Brun, Global Production Sustainability Manager, H&M, which is already sourcing more than 90% of its electricity from renewables and also encouraging its suppliers to make the switch. The popular fashion retailer aims to be climate positive in its supply chain by 2030.
Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting also shared their progress to date.
Growing the market in China
In the morning’s discussions, Li Junfeng, Former Director, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, China, championed The Climate Group’s role in bringing corporate sourcing of renewables to China through RE100.
He said that RE100 had facilitated important introductions to Apple and other companies operating locally, helping the development of a new renewable electricity certification system due to be introduced in China next month – which will be voluntary until 2018.
Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group, echoed Apple’s comments that by increasing the use of renewables along their supply chains, RE100 members were helping to develop the renewable energy market in China, and sending a powerful market signal that demand is on the up.
Kimmins also highlighted the role of governments in enabling companies to go renewable, referencing a recent survey by The Climate Group on behalf of Energy Foundation and the ‘Green Electricity Action Plan’, showing that 70% of businesses in China would increase their renewable electricity targets if there were favorable market and policy conditions.
“China has already become a powerhouse for renewable energy investments,” Kimmins said. “The right policy measures and business models will further drive innovation and bring down costs. The next step must be to increase transparency and knowledge sharing around solutions – that’s where RE100 comes in.”
Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day was brought together by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in collaboration with Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), RE100, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It was held as part of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM’s) Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Campaign, a government-led effort to increase corporate uptake of renewable energy globally, partnered by Facebook and Microsoft.
For the full findings of The Climate Group’s survey of businesses in China, please contact info@RE100.org.