In the opening session we were assured of the bright outlook for corporate renewable sourcing: “This year, despite the pandemic, we have seen continued growth in corporate PPAs with a record 3GW of capacity contracted to date in 2020 alone”, said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. “EU and national policy makers have a leading role to play in the green transformation. They can support EU businesses by realising Europe’s full potential for corporate renewables sourcing.” This was echoed by Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe: “Governments have a central role to play in facilitating the decarbonisation of the corporate and industrial sector by removing barriers to renewable energy procurement.”
The event’s first two guest speakers were European government officials, expanding on the respective situations in Spain and France. Teresa Ribera, the Minister for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge at Spain’s Ministry of Environment, emphasised that the public-private renewable energy relationship goes both ways: governments can support businesses and businesses can support governments in achieving their climate and energy targets. “Corporates have an important part to play in helping countries in Europe deliver on their climate and energy goals. In Spain we see businesses working in various power generation contexts. Financial institutions and corporates in Spain are working to facilitate the necessary financing to back PPAs or improve financing for investments in self-consumption plans.”
Sophia Mourlon, the Director of Energy at France’s Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition, held a similar position: “Public support and public investment is there in France. Corporate support is needed too. Companies are essential contributors to the energy transition. But not only energy companies. We are talking about all companies, whatever their activity or size. To enable this, we support corporate projects by scaling up financial support for renewable energy projects and by simplifying our administrative procedures. 2020 was an energy–intensive year for France. The objectives for renewables were doubled, so that installed capacity of renewables by 2028 (compared to 2017) will reach over 100 GW and close to 115 GW in 2028, including hydrogen. This will mean multiplying the capacity of solar power by five! The implementation of this energy plan will help us achieve Europe’s ambitious climate plans, which we strongly support, as well as help us to reach our own climate goals for France.”
The opening session then turned its attention towards industry professionals. Having heard requests from policymakers to corporates, there were now some asks from the industry to policymakers. Marco Mensink, Director General at Cefic, said: “Renewables have come from niche to large scale growth and beyond. But the current system is very different from a 60% and more renewable system. We need to start building this system right now, requiring new regulation from governments.” Mensink made it clear that industry needs government action and highlighted the key contribution the RE-Source Platform can make in connecting industry and policy. Markus Beyrer, Director General at Business Europe, stated that European businesses want to work with the renewables sectors to clarify the rules of PPA and guarantees of origin in the Revision of Renewable Energy Directive, which is expected for next year.
After these voices of the leaders of industry in Europe, Aurélie Beauvais, deputy CEO of SolarPower Europe and Paula Abreu Marques, the Head of Renewable Policy in the European Commission, discussed the Commission’s role in facilitating the energy transition. Abreu Marques expressed the benefits of corporates and governments working together: “Companies help member states build the necessary confidence. I would encourage companies to show concrete examples, especially in those countries where governments have not yet fully recognised the role of PPAs. We must share good examples, case studies and real experience! All of this would be incredibly useful support for the implementation of the regulatory energy framework.”
When asked how Europe is doing on its climate targets, Abreu Marques was confident about the continent’s renewables goals: “The situation we have today is very different from ten years ago. The business case for renewables is undeniable. The pressure to act on climate is huge from the voters, the youth, and the business sector as we have just heard. The Commission’s Fit for 55 reduction package entails that 38–40% of electricity comes from renewables, which is much higher than the minimum of 32% which was agreed on in the clean energy package. It is Important to note that this figure of 30-40% is double what we have today, as this year the figure is 20%. This is where we stand at the moment. Fit for 55 will come out before the summer and will include a new renewable energy directive. One condition for accessing these recovery funds is that member states need to show progress in administrative simplification in order to facilitate easier access to renewables.”
Beauvais welcomed this news: “A recovery is not only about funding. It is about enabling. It is great that on one hand the Commission is providing not only the direct funding package but also this direct message to member states, that with a few tweaks in their regulatory frameworks they can harvest a very strong potential for growth and job creation. We at RE-Source are convinced this is the case, and we know that this is the strong advantage that corporate PPAs bring.”
An afternoon session, presented by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), covered the state of the US corporate renewable energy market. Mark Porter, Director at Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, said: “We anticipate that in the future what American companies are doing to reduce carbon will be a key part of deal-making and energy trading. It is an issue American businesses can’t get away from.” He emphasised that many new buyers were entering the renewable energy market in the US, even during the past difficult year, and that the rise of battery use in the country was enabling higher renewable energy penetration across the country. On the topic of the pandemic, Porter said: “We haven’t seen a marked slowing down of market growth due to COVID–19, though there will inevitably have been some logistical difficulties. We anticipate that this past year will also lead to increased scrutiny over the language in PPAs.”
A noon session hosted by RE100 and GWEC covered corporate sourcing of renewable energy in emerging wind and solar markets across Asia-Pacific. Aleksandra Klassen, Senior Impact Manager, RE100 at The Climate Group said: “This year has been quite momentous, with key governments recognising that change needs to happen. We saw some of the biggest emitters like China, Japan and South Korea set net–zero commitments. Japan and South Korea are making some moves to limit coal financing and planning to phase out inefficient coal plants. Even last month lawmakers in Japan declared a climate emergency.”
The RE-Source event is the world’s largest gathering of renewable energy buyers and suppliers. The best-selling RE-Source annual event is being transformed this year into a week of knowledge and experience sharing, inspiring keynotes and B2B networking. All of this will be available online so that everyone interested in PPAs and renewable energy procurement will be able to engage, learn, and do business.