Look who is embracing renewables

A car tyre company might not be an obvious place to find evidence of the advance of clean energy. However, that is exactly what emerged from last month’s annual general meeting remarks from Raghupati Singhania, chairman of Delhi-based JK Tyre.

He told shareholders: “37 per cent of our power requirements are met by renewable energy sources, including wind and solar.” In the previous year (2016-17), renewable energy’s share was much lower, at 21 per cent. All this from a company seen to be ‘old world’. And JK Tyre aims to expand renewables consumption even more. 

Many are aware of the global list of more than 140 companies that have publicly committed themselves to use only renewable electricity in their business operations by some future date. Some companies, like Apple, have already reached the finish line. The maker of the iPhone and the iMac announced in April 2018 that all its offices, retail stores and data centres globally are powered with 100 per cent clean electricity. 

The drivers of corporate appetite for renewables globally, and in India are the same — cost savings and sustainability goals. The biggest buyers of clean energy in 2018 include Facebook, AT&T, Norsk Hydro, Alcoa, Microsoft and Walmart, according to Bloomberg NEF.

JK Tyre, though not formally aspiring for the 100 per cent renewables mark, aims at being a “green company”, and has managed savings in water and power usage. It claims to be “among the top four energy-efficient tyre manufacturers in the world”.

The list of companies in India tracking their renewable energy usage, and setting ambitious goals, is getting longer. Hindustan Unilever, for instance, aims to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2020, and to get all its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The share of renewables in the company’s manufacturing operations currently stands at 36 per cent.

Infosys planned to reach the 100 per cent renewables usage mark this year, but has pushed the target year to 2020, citing regulatory challenges. Its share of renewables in electricity consumption was at 43 per cent last fiscal year. The goal for the current fiscal year is to reach the 55 per cent mark. The company also reduced its per-capita electricity consumption by 3 per cent. 

The other tech company — Tata Consultancy Services — increased the share of renewable energy used in its offices to 8.5 per cent in the fiscal year ended March 2018 (from 7.3 per cent in the previous year). It aims at a 20 per cent share by 2020.

Besides Infosys, there are three companies that have formally committed to 100 per cent renewables usage in India under the RE100 umbrella: Dalmia Cement, Tata Motors (by 2030) and Hatsun Agro Products (by 2032).

Tata Motors secured about a fifth of its power from clean sources in the last fiscal year. Mahindra & Mahindra aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 10 per cent by 2020. It also claims to be the first company in India to share an internal carbon price (of $10 per ton of carbon emitted).

ITC is aiming for the 50 per cent renewables mark, after touching 43 per cent in the last fiscal year. 

Globally, private enterprises and public institutions have signed contracts to purchase over 7 gigawatts of clean energy so far this year according to Bloomberg NEF. This is already higher than the 2017 total of 5.4 gigawatts. 
The author is the Editor – Global Policy for Bloomberg NEF. She can be reached at vgombar@bloomberg.net

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