We spoke with Tom Lindberg and Stein Amble Haugan, Managing Director and Key Account Manager of ECOHZ, who attended the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi 17-18 January 2017.
The Global Corporate Demand for Renewable Energy
Tom Lindberg and Stein Amble Haugan | ECOHZ
We spoke with Tom Lindberg and Stein Amble Haugan, Managing Director and Key Account Manager of ECOHZ, who attended the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi 17-18 January 2017. The World Future Energy Summit is one of the most influential renewable energy conferences in the world. The Gulf region is mostly run on fossil fuels today, but it is also a region in transition due to increased demand for energy in general and has an abundance of available renewable sources like wind and solar, and governmental willingness to invest in renewables. We asked Tom and Stein about their views on the development of renewable energy in the region and to share their experiences from their visit to Abu Dhabi and the World Future Energy Summit.
Can you tell us about the global corporate demand for renewable energy?
Tom: Global demand for renewables continues to grow at a rapid pace. Governments around the world and a fast-evolving international energy industry are the main engine of this rising demand, but increasingly they are being joined by multinational corporations driven by a sharpening sense of urgency that they must contribute to combating climate change by switching from fossil-based power to clean, renewable energy — and that it makes good business sense too.
The last two years have seen numerous initiatives arise in all corners of the world. The most far-reaching initiatives are We Mean Business and the RE100. The underlying demand of the corporations that are a part of these initiatives is that their chosen alternatives are backed by credible endorsements from independent stakeholders and reporting standards like the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
When pledging to go 100% renewable, these leading corporates are dead serious about the path they have taken. They will challenge, push and pressure local energy providers and governments until they can deliver on their renewable pledge.
Which expectations do you have for the Gulf region?
Stein: We believe the Gulf will quickly realise that there are benefits to developing their renewable resources. The region depends on large amounts of energy to cool buildings and desalinate salt water, so reducing vulnerability caused by fluctuations in oil and gas prices is valuable. The Gulf region has shown it has the capital and the willingness to develop renewable energy, and that they are proud to be a part of the transition.
A recent governmental tender for energy in the region resulted in a company offering electricity from solar power for the lowest price ever of USD 0.0299 kW/h, crushing the price of fossil energy. A sign that momentum is building.
Tom: But demand from global corporations will have the biggest impact on the development of renewable energy in the region. It simply isn’t an option for a lot of corporations to set up operations in a region where renewable energy isn’t available – especially for corporations that have committed to using 100% renewable energy.
This region has the potential to undergo more pragmatic shifts towards renewable energy. We have seen indications of this through willingness to invest, and not just plans. One big example is Masdar City, which is a part of the Masdar Initiative. It is financed by the Abu Dhabi government to be one of the most energy-friendly cities in the world.
In January you attended the World Future Energy Summit, one of the biggest renewable energy conferences in the world, why was this of interest to you?
Tom: Since we have customers who want and need to be able to source renewable energy from the region, ECOHZ is trying to get ahead of this demand and establish a network of partners so companies can purchase documented renewable energy in the Gulf region.
This means that the Gulf region will become a place we offer I-RECs. Companies can buy I-RECs to document and report that the energy they consume outside Europe and North America comes from renewable energy sources. I-RECs, a global standard, are being introduced in a growing number of countries where no similar scheme exists, like in the Gulf region.
Stein: Unilever recently purchased I-RECs from ECOHZ to document their renewable energy usage, as part of their global renewable energy ambition. Due to the presence of global companies that have committed to using renewable energy, there is an imminent demand for I-RECs in the Gulf region. This is why we attended the World Future Energy Summit.
We understand that you met with the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence, who are they and why are you meeting them?
Tom: The Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence was established to support a growing niche market, catering specifically to the transition to a low-carbon and green economy through the consolidation of knowledge. They are the government-approved issuers of I-RECs in the region. We met with them because working directly with the local issuer enables us to ensure that I-RECs will be made available to corporate customers.
How can the Gulf Region make itself more attractive to international corporations that need to be able to source renewable energy where they operate?
Tom: Corporations are increasingly demanding renewable energy in the Gulf. Many of the world’s most influential companies have committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2020 under RE100. Movements like RE100 are a reaction to increased pressure from stakeholders who want to see companies use exclusively renewable energy.
There’s a reason it’s called RE100 – not RE95. Corporates are not demanding renewable energy for some of their operations; they’re demanding it for all operations in all regions where they operate. And the backlash for non-compliance can be massive. IKEA recently refused to invest 524mln pounds on renewable energy in the UK until the government commits to renewables.
The Gulf region is aware of this demand, and knows how important it will be tomorrow. The United Arab Emirates’ recent plan to invest USD 163bn in renewable energy is proof of their commitment. They need to continue to commit, and back their commitments with investments to make the region more attractive to international corporations.
Have we evolved past the point where government subsidies are necessary to keep the adoption of renewable energy moving forward?
Stein: We all have a big job ahead to change our energy behaviour. Therefore we need solutions that complement each other. Commitments like the RE100, third party initiatives and other standards that benchmark companies and raise the issue of corporate demand, meeting stakeholder expectations driving demand for renewables. Subsidies for some renewable energy sources are no longer necessary, as they are competitive. In over 60 markets now solar is the cheapest source of energy. Free competition for all energy sources will allocate the right technology and right resources to the right regions. Producing renewable energy in the Gulf based from solar power just makes sense.
Do you think the new regime in the US has a negative, neutral or positive effect on the growth of renewables around the world?
Stein: I think China is pleased that the US is shifting away from renewables and back to the old fossil solutions. I believe that China and other countries will take the opportunity and take the lead in technology development within renewables. The US will not entirely shift away from renewables, as I believe states in the US still will focus on renewables, but I believe there will be a shift of power as trade restrictions and less governmental support will reduce the USA’s potential to develop and grow internationally within renewable energy development.
Stein Amble Haugan
Key Account Manager Corporate Customers
“For me changing energy behaviour is about adjusting the way we do business, focusing on a new low carbon economy. I truly believe that companies, which change their energy behaviour, will make a profit and be better for the future! Eventually, everyone will be forced to change, but we need to change before it’s too late. There is no plan(et) B!”
Stein works with global corporate customers, providing renewable energy solutions to large corporations. In addition, he is responsible for developing GO² projects in cooperation with European electricity suppliers.
He holds a Master of Science Degree in Development and Resource Economics from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Before joining ECOHZ, Stein worked as project manager at Pemco Energi AS in Oslo. Prior to this, Stein worked as an advisor for ZERO – the Zero Emissions Resource Organisation.
“Changing energy behaviour is broad, ambitious and specific at the same time. For me it includes having a clear idea that change needs to come at many levels. This means that change is equally important on a global, geopolitical arena, as it is on a regional market and technology arena in Europe. I personally feel a strong commitment to forging ahead with everyday changes in energy behaviour both on a personal level, as well as for ECOHZ. I strongly believe that building profitable businesses go hand in hand with creating sustainable societies. A rapid shift to renewable energy is a key element in this transition.”
Tom is the Managing Director of ECOHZ. He has a broad international background and experience. He studied Business Administration in both Norway and the US, and has later enjoyed the diversity of international work and living in a number of countries in Europe and Asia. Tom spent 22 years working in a range of marketing and management positions in IT and telecom sector, before joining the renewable energy industry in 2008.
ECOHZ offers renewable energy solutions to electricity providers, businesses and organisations across Europe, North America and Asia-providing renewable electricity, from a range of sources, regions and qualities. The renewable electricity is documented by Guarantees of Origin (GO) in Europe, RECs and Green-e in the US, and IREC in Asia. ECOHZ also provides a new solution - GO² - combining a renewable energy purchase with the financing and building of new renewable power generation.
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