Gatwick Airport joins RE100 campaign

Gatwick Airport has joined the Climate Group's RE100 initiative alongside Dutch Royal Philips and the Danske Bank Group, as a new report revealed that existing members of the renewable energy initiative have already created a 107TWh demand for clean energy.

The RE100 campaign encourages corporates to commit to the initiative and agree to source 100% of electricity demand from renewable sources in a short timeframe. Both Gatwick and Danske Bank Group are already sourcing 100% of their energy needs from renewables, while Dutch Royal Philips – formerly of Philips Lighting – has agreed to reach the milestone by 2020.

The RE100 is another stepping point in Gatwick’s quest to become the UK’s most successful airport. After launching plans for the world’s first airport energy-from-waste facility in November, Gatwick’s renewable sourcing commitment could see the airport become carbon neutral in the next few months.

Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate, said: “The initiatives announced today are important milestones in Gatwick’s journey to become the UK’s most sustainable airport and one of the greenest in the world. We are serious about growing sustainably and we have some ambitious plans to develop in the most environmentally responsible way possible.

“A set of rigorous environmental targets is driving our overall environmental performance and, despite a dramatic increase in our passenger numbers, I’m delighted to say that our environmental footprint is the same or better today than it was in the early 1990s despite our passenger numbers doubling.”

Year of growth

The pledges from the three European organisations arrived on the same day (18 January) that the Climate Group released the second RE100 annual report. The report analysed data provided voluntarily by 55 of the 87 members – using 2015 data – to highlight that members created a total demand of 107TWh of renewable energy annually. For comparison, that is equivalent power consumption of the United Arab Emirates.

In the last year, 34 leading business joined the RE100, with the likes of BMW, General Motors and Dalmia Cement showcasing an increased interested from energy intensive industries to transform their energy mix. The report noted that General Motors had reaped savings of $5m annually through renewable energy.

According to the report, 11 companies had already reached the 100% target before the end of 2015. An assessment of the data showed that 23.5TWh out of the maximum 107TWh of electricity had come from renewable sources in 2015, meaning that, collectively, the members were 22% of the way to reaching the 100% goal.

The report noted that the US accounted for 35% of this global total, followed by Italy and the UK. A breakdown of the data shows that much of the renewable energy was sourced through certificate purchases – accounting for 60% of renewable electricity. Contracts with suppliers and green tariffs accounted for 35%, while Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) represented just 3% of the total.

Self-generation through on-site renewables still remains relatively low, according to the report. Just 125,274MWh (1%) of energy was sourced through these methods, however RE100 member Ikea has a goal in place to generate as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020. In total, 34 members reported self-generation in 2015.

While RE100 aims to get companies to source 100% of their energy needs from renewables, the campaign is encouraging these firms to extend the initiative towards supply chains. Apple, which only joined the RE100 in September 2016, has since extended the programme to suppliers Solvay Specialty Polymers and Catcher Technology. The tech giant revealed that 93% of its global facilities were running on renewable energy in March, and has also extended its ethics programme to all suppliers.

Year ahead

The RE100 report also offered a glimpse of what the year ahead would bring. As well as seeking more members, the Climate Group will encourage firms to join the EP100 – a scheme aimed at doubling in-house energy productivity and maximising economic output.

RE100 knowledge sharing events will also be held in China, India, Brazil and Argentina – aimed at connecting members with carefully chosen solutions providers and utility companies. RE100 will also take part in the Green Power Initiative aimed at tackling political and economic barriers to the renewables transition in China. The country has this week cancelled the construction of 103 coal plants.

Matt Mace

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