Insider perspective: RE-Source 2019

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09 October, 2019


WBCSD insights



Lucy Hunt

Geneva, 09 october 2019: Last week delegates from 49 countries gathered in Amsterdam for RE-Source 2019, the world’s largest event on corporate renewable sourcing. The event, attended by more than 1,000 people, started on Monday and finished on Thursday.

This year’s event confirmed the growing interest and appetite for corporate renewable sourcing.

Globally, companies have purchased 43 GW of electricity from renewables to date, equivalent to approximately 55 coal power plants. However, In Europe, only 7 GW of renewables has been deployed to date through corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) – much less than the estimated potential based on commercial and industrial power demand in Europe.

As we took our seats for the opening session, we heard that over 200 companies have now signed up to source 100% of their power from renewables through RE100 and many others are setting their own targets. The ambition is clear. And RE-Source 2019 was all about implementation – with the goal of helping companies on their journey towards a decarbonized electricity consumption.

Growth in the total number of corporate renewable PPAs signed in Europe

The conference kicked off with new data from BloombergNEF shared by Walburga Hemetsberger and Giles Dickson, CEOs of WBCSD partners SolarPower Europe and WindEurope respectively.

Perhaps the most encouraging headline from this year’s event was that the number of countries where corporate renewable PPAs were signed almost doubled in comparison to last year. To date in 2019, companies have already announced PPAs in 13 countries compared to seven in 2018.

Alongside a nearly 100% increase in the number of deals signed per annum (29 in 2019 versus 16 in 2018), we see that market players are diversifying and innovating to increase the amount of power supplied by renewables.

“Five Germanys or two Europes” – the sheer scale needed presents both a challenge and an opportunity

There is positive progress, but we still have a long way to go. As such, Marco Mensink, Director General of CEFIC, offered a stark reminder when it comes to boosting corporate renewable sourcing for harder-to-abate sectors: to satisfy the demand of an electrified and hydrogen-fueled chemicals and steel sector in Europe, we would need additional renewable capacity equal to the electricity capacity of “five Germanys or two Europes” today.

It’s a sobering thought but also an opportunity for companies to play an even bigger role in the energy transition in Europe. Industrial and commercial consumers already account for more than half of Europe’s energy consumption today. If enabled by national and European policy, companies can play an even bigger role in meeting Europe’s 32% renewable energy target by 2030 in a cost-effective way.

Companies need to take an integrated approach to stay ahead

Corporate renewable PPAs represent a significant change to business as usual. Companies are revolutionizing their approach to purchasing power and suppliers are diversifying the way they generate and sell it. But corporate renewable sourcing is just one piece of the puzzle. We heard a lot more discussion this year on how companies can decarbonize all their energy use – including heating and cooling. This could for example include heat purchase agreements and hydrogen purchase agreements.

On Thursday, WBCSD hosted a session on how energy users can use the energy system transformation to their advantage by implementing an integrated energy strategy. We launched a new guideline to help companies develop an integrated approach to energy efficiency, as part of WBCSD’s guideline series on Integrated Energy Strategies.  We look forward to hearing this conversation develop over the next months as companies look beyond their own power demand and find integrated approaches to work with their upstream and downstream stakeholders.

All in all, RE-Source 2019 showed the great progress but also great potential for accelerated implementation for corporate sourcing of renewables across Europe and the globe. The feedback we heard most from delegates was a practical one: to maximize the potential of corporate renewable sourcing, buyers, suppliers and stakeholders simply need to meet and understand each other. The 300+ B2B networking meetings and countless opportunities to make connections over the two-day conference will have significantly improved participants’ networks.

The RE-Source Platform was founded in 2017 by SolarPower Europe, WindEurope, RE100 and WBCSD to accelerate corporate renewable sourcing in Europe. Each autumn, RE-Source hosts its annual flagship event in Amsterdam.

Want to know more?

  • Listen to the Montel podcast guest starring Mariana Heinrich from WBCSD on Navigating PPA Complexity
  • Read the RE-Source release Corporate sourcing of renewables key to meeting Europe’s 32% renewable energy target
  • Watch the RE-Source 2019 video