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RE100: What is it and who is participating?

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RE100 is an acronym for “Renewable 100 percent.” This global initiative is uniting more than 125 corporations that are committed to achieving 100 percent renewable electricity.1  

Corporations with membership in RE100 aim for a zero-emissions economy. To facilitate this giant transition, they submit annual reports detailing progress toward the 100 percent renewables goal.

To participate, members must publicly commit to match 100 percent of the electricity consumed in their global operations with a like amount of renewable electricity produced from solar, wind, water, geothermal or biomass.

How do they do it? Some produce their own renewable electricity (onsite or offsite) or buy unbundled energy attribute certificates. Others enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) and/or make retail purchases from utilities or retail energy suppliers. Energy systems may be off-grid or grid-connected.

Companies Taking Action

The RE100 initiative includes major companies like Fifth Third Bancorp, HSBC, General Motors, Kellogg, Johnson & Johnson, Ikea and Microsoft. Case studies reveal how these corporations are tackling their commitments to renewable electricity.

Fifth Third Bancorp

According to a March 7, 2018 announcement, Ohio-based Fifth Third Bancorp will become the first RE100 member company to use a single solar power project to achieve the coveted 100 percent renewable electricity goal. The publicly traded financial services company signed a PPA with a solar energy provider, becoming the first American bank and the first Fortune 500 company to reach the 100 percent renewable target.

The solar power company will construct an 80-megawatt (MW) facility in Hertford County, North Carolina that is expected to come online later in 2018. The $200 million project is designed to ultimately generate 194,000 MWh of electricity annually, enough to power approximately 22,000 homes.2 The solar project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 144,000 metric tons per year. 

HSBC

This RE100 member maintains approximately 3,900 offices in 67 countries and territories, and works with 1.7 million business customers. In 2011, the company set out to achieve 25 percent renewable electricity by 2020. In 2017, that target was revised to 40 percent. It intends to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

HSBC is another company that embraces PPAs to achieve its sustainability goals. It has already entered into such agreements to cover 24 percent of HSBC's worldwide power use. In its effort to contribute further to a future net-zero emissions economy, HSBC also intends to leverage its financial expertise to provide an additional $100 billion in sustainable investment and financing by 2025.

General Motors

GM's vast network of 350 manufacturing, research and other facilities are scattered across 59 countries. Yet, the automaker intends to meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050.3 This is a prodigious goal, considering that 2016 global electricity consumption amounted to 9,267,890 MWh, with 3.2 percent coming from renewable sources.  Even at this level, David Tulauskas, GM's Director of Sustainability, says the company is saving $5 million per year.

GM's embrace of renewable energy began in 1995 when it started a landfill gas project. Today, Michigan's Orion Assembly Plant derives 54 percent of its electricity from landfill gas. GM manufactures the Chevrolet Bolt EV at the plant. General Motors has also embraced power purchase agreements. One PPA for wind energy will account for approximately half of the electricity needs at GM's Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas.

Kellogg

Like GM, Kellogg has aims to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2050. By contracting with local utilities in the United States and Europe, Kellogg has already hit the 20 percent renewable electricity mark. Furthermore, it expects to achieve 40 percent by 2020. These benchmarks align with Kellogg's previous commitment to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent.

Kellogg seeks to further expand the use of low-carbon energy in its plants by 50 percent by 2020.4 Low-carbon energy includes renewables like solar and wind as well as energy derived from fuel cells and cogeneration of heat and power.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson's commitment to renewable energy is built on an energy management program initiated three decades ago.5 In 2000, the company publicly committed to cutting CO2 emissions "enterprise-wide."

The healthcare company's stated goal is to achieve 20 percent renewable electricity by 2020, and 100 percent by 2050. Concurrently, there is a goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.

As of 2015, Johnson & Johnson on-site renewable energy capacity exceeded 50 Mw. In California, two 500 kW fuel cells were installed. The company also added Puerto Rican solar installations with a total capacity of 3.2 MW, and systems with an additional capacity of 5.7 MW were under construction. In Ireland, Johnson & Johnson installed two 3 MW wind turbines on properties in Cork.  

Ikea

Ikea is one of RE100's founding partners.6 The retail furniture giant expects to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020. In 2016, Steve Howard, Ikea's Chief Sustainability Officer, stated the company's operations were already energy independent in the Nordic region, and that it will soon be energy independent in the United States as well.  Globally, Ikea has already installed more than 700,000 solar panels on the rooftops of distribution centers and retail stores. Furthermore, it has committed to own and operate more than 300 wind turbines worldwide. Together, these solar and wind energy projects represent an investment of more than $2 billion.

Microsoft

Microsoft has been one of the "high achievers", reaching 100 percent renewable electricity in 2014. By 2016, its global operations consumed 4,852,643 MWh of electricity, all of it renewable.

Microsoft made a point of investing in wind projects near data centers. In November 2016, the company announced that its Cheyenne data center would be 100 percent powered by wind energy. The 237MW energy purchase involved one wind project in Kansas and two others in Wyoming.7 The Bloom Wind Project in Kansas will provide 178MW of electricity, while the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming will provide the other 59MW of electricity. Those PPAs brought Microsoft's total purchases of wind energy to 500MW.

Popularity of PPAs Soars

Power purchase agreements are increasingly popular among corporations. An RE100 report reveals a more than 400 percent increase in PPAs among members from 2015 to 2016.8 In 2015, U.S. electricity consumption covered by PPAs was 8,732 MWh. In 2016, it soared to 2,362,056 MWh.

Rapidly declining prices for solar and wind system components are helping drive adoption of PPAs to achieve the 100 percent goal. The United States has been a global leader in PPAs, along with the UK, Mexico and the Netherlands. Some corporations, like HSBC, suggest that greater PPA availability would further accelerate their pursuit of 100 percent renewable electricity.

So why commit to 100 percent renewable electricity? Some, like Johnson & Johnson, see it as a natural extension of their mission to promote the health and well-being of the patients and consumers it serves. Others want to be good stewards of natural resources as well as good corporate citizens. Ikea realizes that those already impacted by greenhouse gas emissions require attention so it's invested in programs designed to help communities adversely affected by climate change.

Getting started with RE100 in your business?

Direct Energy Business serves more than 240,000 businesses in 24 U.S markets and five Canadian provinces and counts more than three quarters of Fortune 100 companies as customers. We do it by offering a full portfolio of green solutions for businesses of all sizes.

To learn more about our green solutions, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and grid-connected systems, request a quote today.

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Sources

  1. http://there100.org/
  2. https://cleantechnica.com/2018/03/08/fifth-third-bank-commits-succeeds-going-100-renewable-single-solar-ppa/
  3. http://there100.org/general-motors
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/13/cereal-giant-kellogg-company-joins-group-committed-to-renewable-power.html
  5. http://there100.org/johnson-johnson
  6. http://there100.org/ikea
  7. http://there100.org/news/14238038
  8. https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/approaching-tipping-point

Posted: May 18, 2018

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