Lesley O’Connor: There is a clear case for corporate buyers of renewable power

15 January 2016

Lesley O’Connor, Non-Executive Director, Mainstream Renewable Power

LONDON: “The case for renewables is really, really strong,” states Lesley O’Connor, Non-Executive Director, Mainstream Renewable Power, while highlighting the business benefits brought by switching to cleaner energy, in The Climate Group’s latest exclusive Climate TV interview.

Mainstream Renewable Power is an independent global developer of renewables that is headquartered in Ireland, with almost 10,000 MW of renewable energy in development and currently nearly 700 MW delivered into construction and commercial operation.

Explaining the economic reasons for the company’s mission, Lesley O’Connor says: “Mainstream Renewable Power, you may guess from the name, actually exists to lead the transition to renewable power. We see that there is a very clear case for corporate buyers of renewable power, as well as governments, as well as cities, as well as regions and states.”

Among its many projects, the company has partnered with IKEA Group to build a 9 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Ireland and 46 MW farm in Canada, which are operated and maintained for IKEA under long-term contracts.

The wind farms are helping IKEA – a founding partner of RE100 which is a global initiative to support companies in their journeys to 100% renewables, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP – reach its target to produce as much renewable electricity as it consumes by 2020 and avoid the release of 131,349 tons of CO2 annually from its operations.

Mainstream Renewable Power’s Global Head of Corporate Affairs, Adam Bruce, sits as a member on the Steering Committee of RE100, “which we are very, very proud to be a member of”, adds Lesley O’Connor.

“We are able to lend our expertise in renewable energy development from a project development perspective and to work with the group to address some of the key challenges that there are in achieving those ambitious and inspirational goals.”

The Director is confident the barriers will be surpassed, and emphasizes the importance of collaboration in growing global demand for renewables: “It’s not impossible certainly, but together the group will definitely overcome them and we are delighted to be a part of that.”

Increasingly businesses from all sectors and around the world are setting targets to become 100% powered by renewables – and showcasing that not only do these targets deliver on an environmental front, but bring benefits to the business simultaneously. Lesley O’Connor explains: “Some of the key elements of the business case for moving to 100% renewables is achieving a certainty on the price of power over the long term, something you simply can’t get with fossil fuels. Another point is we can tell a price on carbon may not be here right now, but it is coming. And it’s coming in every market.”

With a mission to lead the global transition, Mainstream Renewable Power’s focus is “on emerging markets and developing new renewable plants in those markets,” says Lesley O’Connor. “Where there is increasing population we hear that access to power is one of the big challenges for the next 5, 10, 15 years in a lot of emerging markets… there is a clear choice between – do I build a new coal or gas plant? Or do I build wind and solar? And which has better economics?”

A clear example of this is through a partnership with the South African government and its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement process. The company’s portfolio of partnerships with governments, utilities and large corporates alike shows that “in markets like South Africa, where they have that choice, wind and solar are winning hands down,” concludes Lesley O’Connor.

This weekend, the sixth session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly, one of the world's foremost renewable energy transition summits, will take place in Abu Dhabi. The IRENA Assembly will be the first major inter-governmental meeting taking place since the global COP21 climate talks in Paris last year. The event will look to turn Paris outcomes into credible global efforts to scale up renewable energy deployment around the world. The Assembly is part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, one of the world's biggest annual gatherings on renewable energy.

  • Find out more about our RE100 campaign to encourage the world's most influential companies to go 100% renewable

Text by Jessy Field, video by Ilario D'Amato

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