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Corporations demand more renewable energy than the UK's entire electricity demand

Monday, 28 June 2021

According to the RE100 Climate Group, RE100 companies who are committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity in their operations, now have a bigger demand than either the UK or Italy. When combined, current RE100 members have a combined renewable energy demand of 334 TWh which is 8 TWh more than the power consumed in the whole of the UK last year (326 TWh).

The RE100 is a global renewable energy initiative led by the Climate Group in partnership with the CDP, that brings together numerous large corporations around the world that are committed to using 100% renewable electricity in an effort to accelerate the energy transition. In a press release last week (24 June 2021), the initiative announced that the number of corporations that have joined the initiative pledging to be 100% renewable has a bigger demand than either the UK or Italy.

“The rapid growth of RE100 demonstrates that businesses around the world support bold climate ambition. We urge more companies to join RE100 ahead of COP26, and for governments to respond to this growing market demand for 100% clean energy," said Alok Sharma, President of COP26.

When combined, current RE100 members have a combined renewable energy demand of 334 TWh which is 8 TWh more than the power consumed in the whole of the UK last year (326 TWh) which was generated from both fossil fuel and renewable sources. These RE100 corporations are also set to save CO2 emissions equivalent to the burning of more than 118 million tonnes of coal per year.

“Business demand for renewable electricity is racing past that of G7 countries, because it makes business sense as well as environmental sense. But many hundreds more, big corporates are yet to take this relatively easy step towards net zero carbon. To meet global climate targets, and to remain competitive in a world driven by cheap, clean electricity, it quickly needs to become the norm to power your business with renewables." said Sam Kimmis, Head of RE100, Climate group. 

Kimmis further added "Governments must do more too. In many countries, from the EU to Asia, there are barriers to fulfilling the corporate appetite for clean power. Which is bizarre as business investment makes it easier to meet national targets and drives green growth and jobs." 

Since the RE100 initiative was launched 7 years ago, more than 310 companies have joined the RE100, hailing from a wide range of sectors and markets such as food, fashion, batteries etc. Collectively, these corporations have a combined revenue of more than $6.6 trillion which is over 7% of the Global GDP ($87.3 trillion, 2019). 

Corporate response to RE100 growth

Pam Batty, Vice President Corporate Responsibility at Burberry said  “Today’s announcement shows how impactful collective action can be and demonstrates it is essential for businesses to use their influence by investing in more sustainable solutions within their own value chain.

Sourcing renewable electricity is key for Burberry to reach net zero on the way to become Climate Positive by 2040. We’re on track to procure all electricity in our own operations from renewable sources next year and recently accelerated our efforts to decarbonise our value chain.  

Now more than ever, faster and bolder action is needed to create a resilient, zero carbon future, and transitioning away from fossil fuels is a vital step in the right direction. We sincerely hope that other businesses feel inspired to take action and make a positive change.”

“As one of the first members of RE100, it’s great to see how the initiative has grown over the years. RE100 has demonstrated the power of collaboration – bringing businesses and organisations together to send market demand signals for sustainable solutions. At BT, we’re now purchasing 100% renewable electricity worldwide and we’re urging others to do the same,”  said Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability at BT.

The power of combined corporate influence

According to the RE100, the large businesses within the initiative have a major influence on policy and global markets. "RE100 members have asked the Japanese government to be far more ambitious on renewables. In Korea, a big energy reform programme is now underway – driven by business concerns of losing out to foreign competitors who find it easier to buy renewables. Companies, like Ikea and AB InBev, supporting their vast supply chains to switch to renewables, have a huge influence too. In the US, corporate action helped solar and wind power to continue growing all through the Trump presidency. "

As the global costs for renewable energy continue to fall the initiative has seen a spike in large energy consumers joining the RE100 such as Siemens, Nikon and other large electronic suppliers in East Asia. According to the press release, the "total electricity demand from RE100 committed companies has grown 20% in just eight months. "

Within the initiative, UK businesses have progressed the fastest in renewable energy procurement with over 90% of their electricity derived from renewable sources. A majority of RE100 corporations are based in the US, followed by Japan and in third place the UK. 

 As nations around the world push to reach decarbonisation goals, corporations around the world will have a major role to play in reaching these goals and we are more than likely going to see continued growth in corporations joining initiatives like the RE100 and pushing the demand for carbon-free electricity. An overview of the RE100 and its growth over the years is available to subscribers here.