RE100, meaning 100% Renewable Energy, is a global corporate initiative seeking to source 100% of electricity consumption from renewable sources, including PV and wind power. The RE100 initiative was launched by British non-profit organization ‘the Climate Group’ in 2014.
The objective of the Climate Group, which was incorporated in 2003, is simple: taking steps to limit global warming. To do so, it sets a goal to achieve a world with net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and RE100 is part of that goal.
However, there are obstacles to this global initiative. Situations differ widely from country to country. Therefore, it is extremely vital that each government keeps pace with the activities of non-profit organizations.
The Korean RE100 (Renewable Energy 100%) campaign has been launched
This year, the Korean government is actively pursuing the RE100 initiative. On September 2, 2020, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced its support of the RE100 execution plan at the Green New Deal Policy Meeting and established a system with the revision of laws and regulations to lay the foundation for its implementation. The Korean RE100 campaign encourages more companies to participate in the campaign by imposing standards less strict than those of the global RE100, and offering corresponding support.
The global RE100 targets companies that use more than 100 GWh electricity per year. However, under the Korean RE100 initiative, both industrial and residential electricity consumers who want to purchase renewable energy in Korea can join, regardless of the volume of their energy use, by registering with the Korea Energy Agency. Energy sources, including solar, wind, hydrogen power generation, tidal power, geothermal and biomass energy are considered as renewable energy, just like in the global RE100.
Although companies can participate in the Korean RE100 without declaring a commitment to 100% reliance on renewable energy sources, MOTIE recommends that participants make the transition to 100% renewable energy sources by 2050 to meet the global RE100 standards.
The Korea Energy Agency plans to verify renewable energy use status submitted by each participant and issue a renewable energy certificate to those who comply with pre-defined criteria. Those who obtain the certificate can use it for RE100 certification and other related areas.
Meanwhile, the government plans to actively support the Korean RE100 initiative, preparing guidelines for specific energy sources and means and methods of emission reductions. Any company that uses renewable energy will receive a credit for reducing greenhouse gases, and those that consumer more than 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources are eligible to use the RE100 label. In addition, the Korean government is considering supporting the CSR activities of companies that demonstrate excellent performance. It also plans to support them with Green Assurance, preferred supplier status for public procurement tenders, and incentives on the public organization management score.
Opening the all-new electricity trading market
Source | Card News by Korea Energy Agency
Source | Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)
This system might be one of the simplest ways for electricity consumers, including companies, to purchase electricity generated from renewable sources. Under the system, electricity consumers that purchase renewable electricity will pay the green premium separately from their electricity bills. They will participate in the Green Premium bid and pay Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) the price determined by the bidding in addition to their utility bills. KEPCO will issue consumers a renewable energy consumption certificate equal to the amount paid for the Green Premium, which can be used for RE100 certification.
On January 5, 2021, KEPCO conducted the Green Premium bid for 2021 and confirmed 17,827 GW in green premium sales. The contract for the transaction will be made in February, and the green bonus will be paid monthly.
Source | Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)
In the past, only RPS¹ supply obligors, such as energy producers or large power generation companies, were able to purchase RECs (Renewable Energy Supply Certificate). Now, even electricity consumers can purchase an REC² through the REC transaction platform set up by the Korea Energy Agency. Just like in the green premium system, electricity consumers can be issued a ‘Renewable Energy Usage Certificate’ by submitting to the Korea Energy Agency an REC that they have purchased. Electricity consumers can use the certificate received through an REC purchase for RE100 certification, the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction, etc. This REC transaction system is expected to be launched within the first half of the year after the conclusion of a pilot project in the first quarter.
Source | KEPCO
A third-party power purchase agreement (PPA) is a way of purchasing electricity and an REC together by entering into a PPA between an electricity consumer and a renewable energy producer through the intermediation of KEPCO. The renewable energy producer directly provides electricity to a company, and the company is also issued with an REC. In the past, direct transactions between a power producer and a company were impossible. However, since the revised enforcement ordinance of the Electric Utility Act was passed, such transactions are now permitted through the intermediation of KEPCO. This third-party PPA is also expected to be implemented within the first half of the year, like the REC transaction system.
Source | KEPCO
There is another method that is a bit more direct:an electricity consumer, including a company, can invest a certain amount in a renewable energy generation project, and the consumer can separately enter into a third-party PPA or REC agreement with the power producer.
A further method is where a company directly installs a renewable energy facility and self-consumes the electricity produced. In this case, if the usage results of the self-generation facility are submitted to the Korea Energy Agency, a ‘renewable energy purchase certificate’ will be issued.
Q CELLS, a renewable energy leader in Korea
Even before the active implementation of the RE100 initiative in Korea, Q CELLS, as a renewable energy leader, had already placed a high value on eco-friendly, low carbon emissions. At the Q CELLS Jincheon manufacturing plant, solar modules are installed in parking lots and rooftops, producing 1 MW and 500 KW of electricity, respectively. The company plans to install an additional 2 MW of solar PV on the factory’s rooftop. In September last year, it became the first company to receive the highest grade under the government's carbon certification program for solar modules for the first time in the industry.
On February 9, Q CELLS announced that it had joined the RE100 initiative – the first renewable energy company to do so in Korea. Initially Q CELLS will carry out its RE100 activities through a green premium system and self-generation of clean electricity. In the mid- to long-term, the company plans to combine third-party PPAs with comprehensive consideration of electricity usage, emission prices and unit prices of renewable energy. In the case of its overseas operations, the company plans to closely examine the conditions of the RE100 system in each country before the implementation of the initiative.
Kim Hee-chul, CEO of Hanwha Q CELLS, said, “The leadership of Hanwha Q CELLS, which has achieved top market share in major solar energy markets worldwide, will be reinforced further through the proactive ESG management programs. We will become an eco-friendly total energy solution company that takes the lead in carbon reduction and addressing climate change in the era of the low-carbon economy.”
With this RE100 declaration, the hope is that Q CELLS will become a leader in the wider implementation of the green new deal and global renewable energy that not only contributes to the low-emission, eco-friendly economy through renewable energy business, but also takes the lead in responding to the climate crisis, utilizing renewable energies in manufacturing and business operations.
1)RPS: A system that has obligated the supply obligor to supply more than a certain amount of power generation with renewable energy
2)REC: A certificate that proves that energy was supplied using renewable energy