Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day highlights business progress at CEM8 in Beijing

Reading time: 6 minutes
7 June 2017

BEIJING: The RE100 initiative, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, co-organized a major event in China on Wednesday featuring members Apple, Google, H&M, and Philips Lighting, to demonstrate the growing business demand for renewable power.

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 expanding role of the private sector in advancing 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 that record renewable energy capacity was installed in 2016 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.”

The 96 member companies of RE100 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.

The panel at the "Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day" event during the eight Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing

Speaking at the event, Marsden Hanna, Lead Global Energy Policy and Markets, Google, said the technology 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 its carbon impact lies in its supply chain, so the company is helping its suppliers transition to 100% renewable electricity.

As Katie Hill spoke, Apple announced the biggest clean energy commitment so far from its suppliers. US manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc, which has facilities in China, 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.”

Marsden Hanna and Katie Hill were joined on stage by Pascal Brun, Global Production Sustainability Manager, H&M, and the popular fashion retailer is already sourcing more than 90% of its electricity from renewable sources. The company is also encouraging its suppliers to use renewable electricity and aims to be climate positive in its supply chain by 2030.

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 echoed Apple’s comments on how the increasing use of renewables along their supply chains is enabling RE100 members to develop the renewable energy market in China, 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.”

The RE100 annual report 2017 "Accelerating change: how corporate users are transforming the renewable energy market"

Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Day was convened by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), the 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.

by Marie Reynolds

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