Telefonica joins RE100 to accelerate clean energy commitment

Multinational broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica has signalled its commitment to decarbonising its operations, by joining the RE100 initiative to accelerate its plan to source 100% renewable energy.

Telefonica has set a 100% renewable energy target for 2030, combined with a reduction in energy consumption as part of its commitment to the RE100 scheme. Announced last week (2 June), the commitment also sets a 50% target for 2020 under the accelerated Renewable Energy Plan, which was unveiled in November 2016.

“Our Renewable Energy Plan helps us to improve our competitiveness, reduce our operational costs and to make growth compatible with a sustainable strategy,” Telefonica’s global chief technical officer Enrique Blanco said.

“Our goal is to have the best network, one that not only allows us to offer excellent connectivity in technological terms, but also one that is the most efficient and clean in the sector in terms of energy and carbon.”

Telefonica already sources 44% of its electricity from renewables, having doubled the percentage over the last 12 months. The company is already powered by 100% renewables in the UK and Germany, while it generates 79% of the electricity from is home nation of Spain from renewables. The majority of this generated energy is sourced through purchasing guarantees and contracts.

Through the Renewable Energy Plan, which could save the company around €90m, Telefonica will align its operations to the goals of the Paris Agreement, and will potentially save 6% through energy costs related to electricity an avoid the release of around 1.5m tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

Latino feat

Telefonica’s operations extend to Latin America, where abundant sources of renewables, namely hydropower in areas like Brazil and Costa Rica, are available. In fact, Telefonica is consuming more than 90% renewable energy in both Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Purchasing agreements are the preferred choice in Latin America, and Telefonica already has contracts ready to be signed by 2018 in Chile, Argentina and Colombia. However, the company has also invested in onsite renewables. In Colombia, Telefonica invested $1.4m into solar photovoltaic arrays, which are generating annual savings of around $500,000.

Telefonica also uses 4,200 mobile telephone base stations that self-generate renewable energy. When coupled with 16 solar plants being installed by the company in Uruguay, the base stations generate almost 600MWh of renewable energy annually.

In joining the RE100, Telefonica follows in the footsteps of companies including, Ikea, Unilever and Gatwick Airport. As of 2016, members of the RE100 were, on average, halfway to reaching their goals.

The Climate Group’s Sam Kimmins, head of the RE100, added: “By joining RE100 and progressing its renewable electricity goals, Telefónica is demonstrating that climate leadership and business leadership go hand in hand. Going 100% renewable means Telefónica is saving on energy costs while preventing CO2 emissions – that’s a smart business decision.”

Matt Mace

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