RECs Market Meeting 2017: inspiring sessions, big messages

The RECs Market Meeting 2017 is bringing many inspiring sessions from expert speakers. Consumers are driving the energy transition, and our speakers elaborate on the many different aspects of this thriving renewables market. 

The power of choice

Opening the RECS Market Meeting 2017 on 21 March in Amsterdam, Jared Bralawsky, Secretary General, RECS International, said:

“In this seventh edition of the RECS Market Meeting, I am proud to welcome representatives from more than 25 countries who are attending here today. At RECS International we have seen the focus of our work change radically over the years – we used to concentrate on EU legislation and consumer choice, and it was only renewable energy producers in the room.”

Highlighting the recent surge in demand for renewable supply, Bralawsky added: “What we are seeing now is that the end users, the big corporations and citizens are driving the low carbon transition. Now our work is more about supporting the consumers’ choice: the consumer is looking for reliable renewable energy procurement options around the world.”

 

Big ambitions

“Renewables are about to transform our entire energy system,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of Corporate Campaign at RE100 during the 2017 RECS Market Meeting. “We have big ambitions for the change we can create.”

With corporate energy consumers accounting for about 50 percent of global electricity demand, RE100 members aim at spearheading a major shift in the global renewable energy market by committing to 100 percent of electricity demand to be sourced from renewable sources. “By acting together, these huge corporates can punch above their weight and send a positive market signal to producers,” said Kimmins.

Renewable energy certificates  and guarantees of origin are important issues for RE100 companies, who are using certified renewable energy to address 59 percent of their targets. RE100 membership is also facilitating group power purchasing, one example of which is a consortium set up by Google, Dutch firm AkzoNobel, DSM and Philips making a long-term agreement to jointly buy electricity from renewable energy projects for part of their operations in the Netherlands.

The majority of RE100 members are based in North America and in Europe, but are globally established companies with a transnational presence. It is anticipated that this will drive innovation through the supply chains – a major factor for companies like Apple, who estimate that 77 percent of CO2 emissions come from the company’s supply chain.

 

Intel leads the parade

Since 2008, Intel has been the single largest voluntary purchaser of renewable energy. Marty Sedler, Director Global Utilities and Infrastructure at Intel Corporation explains, ”For us, it started with the question ‘what are we doing about this – do we want to watch the parade or lead the parade?’”

Intel’s decision to switch to renewable power is not primarily motivated by public relations. “This is about bringing in lower cost, more reliable power supply that also is better for the environment. It helps us attract good employees, and our customers want it,” says Sedler.

Globally Intel purchased over 4 B-kWh of green power in 2016, compared with an estimated overall energy consumption of 7 billion kWh / year. Sedler explains the overall strategy: “Intel uses a portfolio approach to cleaner energy management, and Guarantees of Origin(GO), Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and International RECS (I-RECS) are an essential part of the portfolio approach. But first, we look for the best technology available in the region or the locality, and then we look at the grid.  Our preference is for local technology solutions with multi-stakeholder (government, NGO, etc) buy-in. We’re not going to buy Norwegian hydro credits for our operations in Ireland.” 

“We’re here at the RECS Market Meeting to meet and coordinate with all the players and help us create the markets outside of Europe and the U.S. – because we [Intel} are everywhere, and renewables markets are not yet everywhere,” Sedler adds.

 

“Never underestimate the tsunami”

“This is something of great force, something unstoppable,” says Tom Lindberg, Managing Director of ECOHZ, a market leader in global renewable energy solutions. “Since COP21 in Paris in 2015, the big corporate companies have moved centre-stage in the climate and energy agenda. Big businesses are now setting more ambitious targets than cities or governments. This is about making collective change.”

Lindberg highlighted that in terms of demand for renewable energy, there is a gap between future market demand and what is available. Out of an estimated 5000 TWh global electricity demand from corporate consumers, only 800 TWh is tracked and documented today. “We need to increase tracking in order to be able to supply the rising corporate demand, and we also need new business models that will allow corporates to create more renewable power production,” says Lindberg. 

Lindberg noted recent changes in the marketplace for renewable energy certificates. “Some of the challenges that we are facing now are is the view of ‘tailored versus commodity’ aspect,” he says. “This is where consumers are identifying with certain technologies and geographies – for example, demand for windpower from the Netherlands or hydro from Switzerland. Another big change of the last few years is the shift in focus from short term pricing to long term certainty.”

“If we’re serious about building this marketplace, then there is much more to be done in terms of influencing policy, getting active with industry initiatives and dialogues with stakeholders. We must not underestimate the power of the tsunami that is coming,” adds Lindberg.   

 

European policy: the consumer in the driver’s seat?

“There has never been a time in history when consumers’ choice has such an impact on energy policy,” according to Torsten Amelung, Senior Vice-President, Trading and Customers, Statkraft, anticipating the near future when European and local energy markets will co-exist.

Focusing in on the draft European energy legislation currently under debate, the Clean Energy Package, Ron Wit, Director Corporate Strategy at Eneco, was critical of the European Commission’s proposals. In particular, Article 19 of Renewable Energy Directive proposes an auctioning system of GOs, which according to Wit, threatens the direct link between specific renewables production and the end-user. He also anticipates that this could hinder the joint development of renewable energy projects by corporates.

Other political influencing activity includes a RE100/E3G co-authored position paper on the current Clean Energy Package. Sam Kimmins, Head of Corporate Campaign at RE100 says, “We are signaling to policymakers the opportunity to bring corporate capital on board. There is a lot of innovation and investment going on – this is creating change in the market and the political sphere, but we need to nurture this develeloping market to enable achieve this promise”