29 June 2016

From Google to Ikea there is a long and impressive list of companies signing up to the RE100 pledge to go 100 per cent renewables. With government support waning and the loss of the EU direction, can we look to corporates to drive renewables?

Last week Alan John, a Regen SW board member, and I, gave a webinar to RE100 companies on “An overview of renewables in the UK” and how RE100 companies could make the most impact.

It is possible for RE100 companies to meet their commitments by ‘retiring’ Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin Certificates.  This will send a signal, but is unlikely to have much impact on demand for new renewable energy projects to be developed.

However, recent announcements show that some RE100 companies are taking a more direct approach. For example, Mars announced that it is purchasing 100 per cent of its power in the UK from Eneco’s new Moy Wind Farm.

M&S has taken another interesting approach crowdfunding the installation of 891 kWh-worth of panels on nine stores, from which the retailer will buy energy. Profits from M&S Energy Society will be distributed through a community benefit fund to help support local energy-related projects, such as improving insulation on community buildings or helping local residents cut fuel consumption.

Regen has seen the potential for exciting projects first hand through our work with South West Water looking at potential tie ups with local community energy projects. This resulted in South West Water agreeing a private wire connection from a new Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network solar project to power their Nanstallon sewage treatment works.

These are encouraging signs of what can be achieved in partnership between the renewables sector and corporates. The onus is now on the renewables sector to make contact with RE100 companies and show them exciting projects that enable them to meet their commitments. Regen will be engaging with RE100 companies on the opportunities at a major international “Business and Climate” Summit this week in London.