Multinationals accelerating clean economy

Calvin Klein owner latest to join Re100 initiative
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Tupungato

A rapidly growing group of multinational businesses are actively reshaping the energy market through their global investment decisions and accelerating a zero emissions economy.

Approaching the tipping point: how corporate users are redefining global electricity markets, a new report from RE100, tracks progress made in 2016-17 by companies committed to 100% renewable power.

The report also provides insight into emerging trends in corporate sourcing of renewables around the world, with 122 RE100 members operating in 122 countries averaging 1.3 times more renewables in their electricity mix than the global rate of renewable electricity use.

RE100 members have a collective revenue of over $2.75 trillion and operations spanning six continents. Together they represent over 159TWh of demand for renewable electricity – more than enough to power Malaysia, New York State or Poland, and equivalent to the 24th largest electricity demand of all countries.

25 members had reached 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2016, with Autodesk, Elopak, Interface, Marks and Spencer and Sky reaching this goal during 2016, while Equinix and Kingspan surpassed their interim targets during the same year.

The biggest achievers in 2016 included Bank of America, Astra Zeneca and Coca Cola Enterprises Inc., whose share of renewable electricity increased more than threefold.

Thanks to falling costs of renewable energy technology, there is a notable shift away from renewable energy attribute certificates towards direct sourcing of renewables – meaning that increasingly, members are directly growing renewable energy capacity.

The proportion of renewable electricity being sourced via power purchase agreements grew fourfold in 2016, while the quantity of electricity sourced from onsite generation increased x15 (via supplier-owned projects) and x9 (via member-owned projects).

88% of respondents cited the compelling economic case for renewable electricity as a major driver – with 30 out of 74 reporting that renewable electricity was either cost competitive or delivered significant savings on energy bills.

Policy barriers represent the most common challenge for RE100 companies, alongside a lack of availability of suitable contracts or certificates in some markets.

The report comes as government and business leaders gather at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss pathways to a sustainable economy, and a few days after Nike signed its second major wind contract in Texas that will take the company more than half way to reaching 100% renewable electricity globally as part of RE100.