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Business demand for renewables greater than G7

Business demand for renewables greater than total energy demand of major G7 economies

24 June 2021, 7:00 BST 2 min read

RE100 companies, committed to going 100% renewable, now have bigger electricity demand than either the UK or Italy.    The influence of business in the drive to clean energy globally has reached a major threshold as big business buyers increasingly abandon fossil fuels; the Climate Group reveals today.     

“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."

Alok Sharma, President of COP26

Figures from Climate Group and CDP, the international non-profit groups which run RE100 - the coalition of major businesses committed to purchasing 100% renewable electricity- show that demand for renewable electricity is now greater than that of the UK.     Together, RE100 members have a combined demand for renewable electricity of 334 TWh – more than the 326TWh used to power the whole of the UK last year – and are set to save CO2 emissions equivalent to the burning of more than 118 million tonnes of coal per year.*     * Figures via US EPA website calculator

“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.

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." 

Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, Climate Group

Since its launch seven years ago, more than 310 companies have joined RE100, covering a diverse range of sectors and markets - from food and fashion to brewing and batteries – as they commit to driving down emissions fast. Collectively, these companies have a combined revenue of more than $6.6trillion, over 7% of global GDP.

“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.”  

Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability at BT,

“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.”  

Pam Batty, Vice President Corporate Responsibility at Burberry

These businesses have a big influence on policy as well as 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 huge influence too. In the US, corporate action helped solar and wind power to continue growing all through the Trump presidency.     As the cost of renewables continues to fall globally, increasingly larger energy users are joining RE100, such as Siemens, Nikon and major electronics component suppliers in East Asia. Total electricity demand from RE100 committed companies has grown 20% in just eight months.      The UK is the third biggest home for RE100 business members after the US and Japan but houses the businesses who’ve made the fastest progress with over 90% of their electricity coming from renewable sources.