The RE100 group is a club of the most influential global Fortune 500 companies that are migrating to 100% renewable energy for all their business operations at a global level.
The group consists of such household names as Apple, Ikea, Facebook and Google. Many of these companies have already made the transition to 100%, whilst others are edging ever closer to this milestone.
Renewables in many locations are already cheaper than grid power, thus making a definite business case for using power generated from renewables.
Not only that, but climate change is set to impact businesses too and many companies are building this into their risk management strategies.
Energy security is also taking centre stage in the corporate sector at present.
Moreover, consumers are putting their favourite brands under pressure to adopt more sustainable business practices and governments too, are increasing policy tools to stimulate the uptake of renewables in the commercial sector.
All these different variables are driving the renewables revolution in the corporate sector.
Locally in Australia, electricity and gas costs are at an all-time high, so renewables are being seen by many companies as a way to control runaway energy costs.
Local companies are investing in increasing their renewables capacity, purchasing 100% renewable energy or going off the grid so to speak.
A recent poll conducted by IPSOS in Australia concluded that 76% of Australian consumers stated they would more likely buy a product from an Australian company that was committed to 100% renewable energy.
Just who are these companies, though and what are they doing to migrate to 100% renewable energy?
For many such companies, it’s a journey and they have clearly defined sustainability goals in place. It’s only a matter of time before we see more companies commit to 100% renewable energy.
The market fundamentals are in place and consumers want it too.
There’s a certain feel-good factor associated with purchasing something from those who are committed to making a difference to climate change and doing their part in the global solution.
1. Carlton & United Breweries
Probably top of the list in Australia is Carlton & United Breweries.
Ranked as Australia’s largest brewery operation it has committed to embark on a sustainable journey by reducing water usage, introducing circular packaging, using sustainable agriculture practices and procurement of 100% renewable energy by 2025.
However, they look set to reach this target well in advance by the end of 2018.
The company have recently signed a 12-year power purchasing agreement with the German renewable energy company BayWa.
This will be followed up by an installation of rooftop solar plants at all their breweries across the country.
The 112 MW Solar Farm in Karadoc, Northern Victoria will supplement Carlton & United Breweries’ existing rooftop solar generation at all its sites.
Not only will this reduce the company’s carbon footprint but also hedge against future electricity price increases and reduce electricity costs.
2. Whyalla Steelworks
Whyalla Steelworks is situated in South Australia; they mine and produce steel and are the only rail manufacturer in Australia.
The steel manufacturing business is an energy-intensive one so any increase in primary energy costs has a negative impact on the business.
The company GFG Alliance has embarked on an ambitious goal of rolling out more than 1 GW of renewable energy for their SA operation. Included in the mix will be solar, pumped hydro storage and energy storage in Port Augusta.
Clean energy company Zen Energy will be implementing their $700 million project that has the aim of reducing electricity costs by 40%.
It will be the single largest solar and energy storage investment in Australia.
It will include a 100 MW solar PV farm, a 100 MW/100 MWh energy storage system and a 120 MW/600 MWh pumped hydro storage facility. There are already plans for a 2nd phase where the solar PV farm will be expanded by a further 480 MW!
GFG Alliance which owns Whyalla Steelworks, has similar plans for other steel operations in Victoria and NSW.
3. Sun Metals
Sun Metals is a Korean owned Zinc refiner. The company is yet another corporate to take the plunge and invest in renewables.
Sun Metals has a sustainability strategy with a strong focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. It has recently started construction of a 125 MW solar PV farm at its refinery near Townsville which is expected to provide a third of the refinery’s baseload power.
It’s also the first large-scale solar farm to be built directly by a major energy user in Australia.
The cost of fossil fuels keeps going up whilst renewables are becoming more affordable. Energy costs for mining operations can account for 35% of operational costs, so investing in more affordable power generation will not only secure energy supply for the company but also assist in reducing operating costs.
Telstra is one of Australia’s largest consumers of energy and the largest telecoms company.
The company consumes about 1% of the power in the National Electricity Market.
Rising power costs, therefore, have a large impact on the profitability of the company. They too are investing in renewables to ensure against energy price increases and they are in it for the long haul.
Telstra is one of the biggest Australian companies to sign a long-term PPA with a renewable energy power producer RES Australia to buy all the output of a 70 MW solar farm.
The company is also part of a consortium of companies that have recently signed a long-term agreement to purchase clean energy from the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, at 429 MW.
The first stage of the Murra Warra Wind Farm situated in Western Victoria will have a capacity of 226 MW but will be expanded later to 429 MW.
5. Mars Australia
Mars Consumer Products is a global FMCG company and they have a long history of a commitment to sustainability.
Their US operation is by far the largest in the world and already running off 100% renewables. The company has similar plans for other operations around the world.
Mars Australia will source all the power for its six Australian factories and two offices from a 200 MW solar farm in Victoria.
They have signed a 20 year PPA with Italian renewable energy company Total Eren.
The Kiamal solar farm is expected to be completed in mid-2019 and will supply clean energy to the Mars Australia sites in Asquith, Ballarat, Bathurst, Wacol, Wodonga & Wyong along with two other sales offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
6. Unilever Australia
Unilever, another global consumer goods manufacturer and member of the RE100 club has set a bold target of being carbon positive by 2030 and is committing to 100% renewable energy across all of its operations.
The company has a history of being a leader in sustainability as it’s a part of their business’s risk management strategy.
The company recently stated they are on track to secure 100% of their energy supply from clean energy sources for all of its Australian operations by 2020.
The company is planning on signing PPAs with solar and wind farm power producers to provide power to its four sites across Australia.
Industry globally makes up the bulk of energy consumption and is also responsible for a large portion of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Under the Paris Agreement, signature countries have committed themselves to low carbon economies.
Governments are pushing corporates through policy and incentives to drive investment into renewables.
However, market forces are also at play in the global renewables revolution.
In recent years energy prices have soared in Australia, negatively impacting the operational costs of doing business.
Corporate Australia is increasingly moving to a scenario where they are planning on migrating to 100% renewable energy.
Not only will renewables hedge against future electricity price increases but also secure energy supply in case of electricity supply constraints.
Investing in renewables will assist in mitigating climate change and the negative impact that will have on their business operations.
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