RE100 and the corporate renewable electricity boom

Mariana Daykova


What’s the idea behind RE100?

The RE100 launched at the 2014 Climate Week. The idea was to gather momentum for renewable electricity consumption and bring everybody interested in the topic together to push the market forward. Since 2017, we have seen massive expansion across Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. We actually have 42% of our new members coming from the Asia-Pacific region. As of May 2021, we have 312 members in over 175 markets. And in June, we announced the ‘bigger than UK electricity consumption’ moment, which means our members now consume over 280 terawatt-hours of renewable electricity on a yearly basis.

Why are corporates interested in joining?

Last year, we had over 92% of members saying their participation is driven by customers, while 77% said that it’s also stakeholder-based. So for them, this is really about risk management from a brand and customer relationship perspective.

How is greenwashing approached?

That the word ‘greenwashing’ exists means this is something that’s seen in multiple markets. This is why the CDP is involved. Reviews occur on an annual basis as part of our wider voluntary disclosure framework. We also have a separate RE100 process where we collect data from members to see how far along they are in achieving their goals. We carry out this exercise annually and we cross check against our RE100 technical criteria – the minimum criteria to which every signatory promises to adhere. So we have a system that acts against greenwashing, and incentivizes action that helps standardization, transparency, coherent communication, and measures where we are in terms of what we set out to achieve.

What’s the policy landscape like in terms of supporting corporates?

Even if members want to go 100% renewable everywhere they operate, this is not always possible because of the policy landscape in many countries. Part of what we do is focus on policy work. It is very much data-driven. For example, as part of the annual reporting process, we ask members to share the barriers they face in different markets. This feeds into our plans for the upcoming years.

How do corporates approach renewable energy purchases?

As part of RE100, we have technical criteria which basically outline what we count as renewable electricity. The criteria, while not an official standard, does drive standardization in the renewable energy purchases space. We also currently support eight renewable electricity sourcing methods (see Box 2) that acknowledge where the different members are in their transition, where they operate, and what challenges exist in their markets. The main message is we acknowledge that different corporates have different needs when it comes to their renewable purchases.

How can the renewables industry better support corporates?

It’s all about collaboration. We ask governments to work with corporates to remove barriers, we ask investors to work with corporates who demand electricity, and to work with suppliers who can deliver this. The more collaboration between corporates, policymakers, and utilities, the more we have the supplier side introduced into the picture, and the faster the energy transition can be achieved.

Is there a need for the RE100 to rethink its model? What are the next steps?

It’s an ongoing conversation, because energy and electricity markets are moving as we speak, so we have more open questions than closed ones. We are thinking more about regional bases and to have a more intensified look at Asia Pacific. We are also constantly thinking about how we can sustain movement – how we can reach 1,000 or 2,000 members, or do we want to do something else?

Requested policies

  1. A level playing field where renewables compete fairly with fossil fuels and reflect the cost-competitiveness of renewable electricity.
  2. Remove regulatory barriers and implement stable frameworks to facilitate the uptake of corporate renewable electricity sourcing.
  3. Create an electricity market structure that allows for direct trade between corporate buyers of all sizes and renewable electricity suppliers.
  4. Work with utilities or electricity suppliers to provide options for corporate renewable electricity sourcing.
  5. Promote direct investments in on-site and off-site renewable electricity projects.
  6. Support a credible and transparent system for issuing, tracking, and certifying competitively priced Environmental Attribute Certificates (EACs).

Options for renewable electricity procurement

Renewable electricity self-generation for self-consumption

  1. Self-generation from facilities owned by the company (on- or off-site)

Renewable electricity purchase

  1. Purchase from on-site installations owned by a supplier
  2. Direct line to an off-site generator with no grid transfers
  3. Direct procurement from off-site grid-connected generators (e.g., power purchase agreements)
  4. Green electricity products from an energy supplier
    (e.g., green tariffs)
  5. Unbundled Energy Attribute Certificate (EAC) purchases
  6. Default delivered renewable electricity from the grid, supported by certificates
  7. Default delivered renewable electricity from a grid that is 95% or more renewable and where there is no mechanism for specifically allocating renewable electricity

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