Royal DSM has a RE100 goal to purchase 100% renewable electricity, with an interim goal that 50% of purchased electricity must be sourced from renewable sources by 2025. Here, Harry Coorens, Vice President – Procurement Sustainability, leading DSM’s sustainable sourcing strategy, and Paulette van Ommen, Global Climate Lead, tell us more about the company’s journey to be ‘100% renewable’.
DSM joined RE100 in 2015. What motivated you to join the initiative?
Paulette: At DSM, climate change is high on our agenda: both in our running business and our innovation community. Next to the opportunity we have, to develop and sell solutions that help enable a low-carbon economy, we also have a responsibility to reduce our own carbon footprint. Saving energy and increasing our sourcing of renewable energy are the two key priorities to realize that. In the latter, RE100 is a key partner.
What progress have you made since you joined RE100? And what are your plans goingforward?
Harry: In 2017, 21% of our electricity was purchased from renewable sources. In the United States, we signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to source a total of 125 GWh/year from a new wind farm to be built in Oklahoma. In 2016, in The Netherlands, we formed a Dutch wind consortium together with Google, AkzoNobel and Philips. Through this unique partnership, we have signed two PPAs to date; one in October 2016 for the Krammer Wind park project, and a few months later, the Bouwdokken Wind Park project adding up to a total delivery of around 110GWh/year. As some of our projects take some time before they are live, we purchase renewable energy certificates from qualified sources for the ramp-up phase. We also have smaller projects in India (Pune) and the US (Belvedere, NJ and Kingstree, SC) where we generate on-site solar energy. Going forward, we’ll also look into opportunities beyond electricity. In Switzerland, we are already building a sustainable biomass plant, and we’ll be collaborating with peers to explore new areas, such as China.
How does RE100 support your “renewables journey”?
Paulette: The campaign has helped us a great deal! The (peer) learning opportunities for my colleagues in DSM’s sourcing function, and across regions, are great. Prior to joining RE100, an informal internal “renewable energy movement”, initiated by our Project Director for Renewable Energy, Sim van der Linde, had already emerged. This group has continued to make several great projects happen in the past years, and thanks to partners like RE100, these dedicated colleagues have become part of a broader network and community.
Harry: RE100 has provided a framework that is recognized in multiple regions. This allows us to have discussions with developers and peers on a similar standard and reference level.
Do you have any tips on ensuring smooth collaboration to get renewable projects off the ground?
Harry: Our Dutch wind consortium is a unique collaboration: local citizens have taken the initiative to drive the development of local renewable capacity for themselves and a consortium of four large-scale energy users, including DSM. This bottom-up approach is an interesting win-win model: highly engaged individuals, industrial-scale users, windfarm developers and the national Dutch electricity grid all benefit.We shared our learnings in this Rocky Mountains Institute case study!
Paulette: And internally, the RE100 movement reaches beyond colleagues within corporate functions such as sourcing, communications or sustainability. For example, our business group Engineering Plastics recently announced its commitment to our customer Apple, which has a supplier clean energy program. DSM Engineering Plastics manufactures polymers and compounds in the Netherlands, Taiwan and China that are used in many Apple products, including connectors and cables.
What kind of renewable future do you envision?
Paulette: A future in which renewable energy doesn’t need a movement or campaign anymore, because it is the new normal. We must however ensure that we consider the environmental sustainability of renewable energy production. At DSM, we are part of that journey as well. Our Dyneema fibres, which are used in the ropes and lifting slings to construct and operate wind farms, boost efficiency and cost savings of wind projects. And together with POET, we also enable the production of sustainable low carbon fuels, made of agricultural residue, in Iowa (USA). Another example is the 100% recyclability of DSM’s Endurance solar panel back sheets. Recyclability is a serious issue: the figures reported by IRENA and the IEA on the projected waste volumes from decommissioned PV modules are rather alarming. In short: we must scale-up renewables as sustainably as possible!