Business demand for renewables greater than that of UK’s total power usage

Businesses that have made public commitments to procure 100% renewable energy have created a combined demand that is bigger than the national requirements from the likes of the UK and Italy, with separate research showing that two-thirds of renewables globally are cheaper than fossil fuels.

Business demand for renewables greater than that of UK’s total power usage

RE100 members have created a demand for 334TWh of renewable electricity

More than 310 companies, with combined revenue of more than $6.6trn and accounting for more than 7% of global GDP, have committed to sourcing 100% renewables through the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative.

According to new data from the initiative, RE100 members have created a demand for 334TWh of renewable electricity. In comparison, 326TWh of power was used in the UK last year.

The data also revealed that creating this demand for clean energy looks set to save emissions equivalent to the burning of more than 118 million tonnes of coal each year. Total renewable electricity demand from RE100 members, which include the likes of BT and Burberry, has grown 20% over an eight-month period.

The Climate Group’s RE100 head Sam Kimmins said: “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.”

Alok Sharma, President of COP26 added: “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.” 

‘Far beyond the tipping point’

In related news, new research has shown that some forms of renewable energy are achieving lower costs than most conventional fossil fuel sources. Research from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that 162GW – or 62% of the global renewable power generation total – had lower costs than the cheapest new fossil fuel option in 2020. This is double the amount recorded the year prior.

The new report states that the costs of concentrated solar arrays have fallen by 16%, onshore wind by 13%, offshore wind by 9% and solar PV by 7%. Low-cost renewables are now undercutting the operational costs of existing coal capacity too. IRENA states that the world is already “far beyond the tipping point for coal” with renewable additions in 2020 set to save emerging economies up to $156bn over their lifecycle.

“Today, renewables are the cheapest source of power,” IRENA’s director-general Francesco La Camera said. “Renewables present countries tied to coal with an economically attractive phase-out agenda that ensures they meet growing energy demand, while saving costs, adding jobs, boosting growth and meeting climate ambition.

“I am encouraged that more and more countries opt to power their economies with renewables and follow IRENA’s pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

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Matt Mace

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