Multinationals tap 100% renewables

Renewables are becoming the preferred energy source for the world’s leading multinational companies, Climate Group reports.
Published: Wed 24 Jan 2018

In their continued drive to burnish their sustainability credentials the latest it seems for the multinationals is 100% renewables use.

According to a new report from the RE100 initiative led by the Climate Group and disclosure charity CDP, 122 companies have made the 100% commitment.

And of these, by the end of 2016, 25 had reached that target.

Among the latest are Autodesk, Elopak, Interface, Marks and Spencer and Sky, while Equinix and Kingspan surpassed their interim targets during the year.

In addition, so called ‘big achievers’ of 2016, whose share of renewable electricity increased more than threefold, included Bank of America, Astra Zeneca and Coca Cola.

“I’d like to congratulate RE100 members accelerating the rollout of renewable energy through their investment decision,” commented Climate Group CEO Helen Clarkson.

“Rapidly growing demand from [these] companies means governments can confidently look to ratchet up targets in 2020 for slashing greenhouse emissions, to deliver on the Paris Agreement.”

Renewables trends

According to the report, the RE100 companies are sourcing on average almost one-third of their electricity from renewables.

Moreover, they average 1.3 times more renewables in their electricity mix than the global rate of renewable electricity use.

The report also notes that due to the falling costs of renewable energy technology, there has been a notable shift away from renewable energy attribute certificates towards direct contracts with suppliers, as well as onsite generation and offsite grid-connected generators (i.e. power purchase agreements).

In 2016, the proportion of renewables sourced via PPAs grew fourfold, while the quantity of electricity sourced from onsite generation increased nine times for member owned projects and 15 times for supplier-owned projects.

In all, 56 companies were generating some of their own electricity on-site in 2016.

The study found that an important driver for the RE100 commitment for the majority of members was the economic case. Half of them reported that switching to renewables was cost competitive or resulted in cost savings on their energy bills.

However, policy barriers were considered the most common challenge for the companies, alongside a lack of availability of suitable contracts or certificates in some markets.

Multinationals drive renewables

The report’s findings indicate the growing role of the multinationals in driving the development of renewables.

With a demand over 159TWh/yr, their collective requirements are greater than those of many countries.

They are also bringing some innovation to the market. For example, four companies – AkzoNobel, Google, Royal DSM and Philips – formed the Dutch Wind Consortium to jointly negotiate PPAs with wind projects in the Netherlands.

The same companies and others also have been active in policy debates.

The report notes that in 2017 the initiative focussed on supporting member companies to engage with their suppliers on renewables and almost 40% are now doing this. Given the complexities of supply chains, the intentions is to step up this effort in the current year.