Big businesses press policymakers in Asia to go faster on renewable energy

The Climate Group has stated that policymakers in Japan and South Korea are under increasing pressure to improve national clean energy targets and supporting policies, due to a groundswell of corporates wanting to increase their use of renewable electricity.

Big businesses press policymakers in Asia to go faster on renewable energy

The organisation has this week published its latest annual update on the RE100 initiative, which convenes businesses from different countries and industries in setting targets to procure 100% renewable electricity.

More than 400 businesses now participate in the RE100 and collectively use 500TWh+ of electricity each year – more than the entire electricity demand of France.

Of the top 10 largest electricity-consuming companies that joined RE100 since the previous annual report, all are in Asia. Seven are headquartered in South Korea, with the other three being based in Japan.

This is significant given the RE100’s historic challenges growing in these markets; membership has historically been dominated by companies in North America and Europe, as it is easier for businesses in these markets to procure renewable electricity using certificate-backed tariffs or through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

“The growth in Asia can’t go unnoticed by policymakers, especially in South Korea and Japan – big businesses are clamouring to use renewables,” said Ollie Wilson, head of RE100, noting that members collectively account for almost 2% of global annual electricity use.

“These companies are held back in their electricity transitions because of policy barriers. We’re working closely with policymakers and businesses to remove them as quickly as possible and ensure our members can source the renewables they need.”

The Climate Group still ranks Indonesia, India, China, Japan and South Korea as “challenging markets” for corporations to access clean energy.

Its report notes that businesses have had to shift back their targets in some cases to account for a lack of intervention by policymakers. Only 4% of RE100 member companies operating in South Korea have been able to achieve 100% renewables, for example.

The new report builds on a paper issued towards the end of 2023 by The Climate Group, identifying common policy hurdles to corporate renewables access and putting forward suggested interventions.

Barriers include “unduly limiting” permitting and siting processes for new renewables projects; fossil fuel subsidies that prevent renewables from being cost-competitive and unnecessarily complicated PPA processes.

BloombergNEF confirmed last month that 2023 was a record year for PPAs, but that progress was largely concentrated in the US and Northern Europe. It is foreseeing exponential growth in South Korea and some other Asian markets, but noted that this will only be possible with more concerted policy interventions.

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