Over 90 companies have committed to the RE100 campaign. Most simply buy renewable energy certificates but others are taking a more creative approach. On the day that Donald Trump signed away President Obama’s clean power plan, the world’s biggest brewer signed up to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. In doing so, ABInBev – owner of brands such as Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois – joined a growing number of companies who are part of RE100, the corporate campaign that brings together major businesses who share that goal. So far, over 90 have joined up. So what’s driving them? Reputation, for sure: committing to 100% clean electricity is a decisive way to nail green colours to the corporate mast. But there’s hard economic self-interest in there as well. As Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, points out, in a world of volatile wholesale energy markets, a long-term deal with a renewables supplier gives some welcome price certainty. And as the costs of both solar and wind power continue to fall way beyond expectations, such deals are becoming increasingly attractive. So how are companies making the switch? At present, says Kimmins, the vast majority are doing so indirectly, either by buying renewable energy certificates (RECs – which represent a proven amount of power generated from a renewable source) or shifting their electricity supply to an established “green tariff”, which carries a similar assurance. Four major businesses – Google, DSM, Royal Philips and AkzoNobel –came together to sign a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with a Dutch wind farm. This both helped ensure its viability, and helped the companies hit their RE100 targets. Other companies backed by the Climate Group (which spearheads RE100) and NGOs, are lobbying governments to reform power purchase regulations so as to allow direct purchases. Kimmins cites Starbucks, which has persuaded North Carolina to allow it to buy electricity direct from a solar farm: enough to power 600 of its outlets. Meanwhile, a number of companies such as Apple and H&M are encouraging their suppliers to commit to 100% renewable targets as well. With many suppliers being based in Asia, there’s growing pressure for governments there to allow direct power purchases from renewables providers. Google has raised the bar by explicitly ruling out locating any of its data centres in a country which fails to do so.
Guardian 5th May 2017 read more »