Virtual Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum (Winter Edition) Wrap-Up - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  December 16, 2020

Virtual Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum (Winter Edition) Wrap-Up

Smart Energy Decisions' Virtual Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum (Winter Edition), presented on December 7-11, brought together industry buyers and suppliers to accelerate the creation and execution of renewable energy strategies. Focusing on the needs of large electric power customers, the Forum featured a mix of educational sessions, innovative roundtables, peer-to-peer sessions, and exclusive one-to-one meetings to explore the theme, "Collaborating for a Zero-Carbon Future." 

Upon completion of SED's third virtual event - and sixth Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum - John Failla, Founder and Editorial Director, said, "Even in a virtual world, our event continued the tradition of providing buyer-driven content and a variety of opportunities for buyers to network both with suppliers and their peers.

Following are brief highlights from the Virtual Renewable Energy Sourcing Forum. More extensive coverage will follow in our RE Sourcing Forum Insights report, which will be available in early 2021.

Driving Decarbonization with Digital Innovation”

In her opening keynote, Vanessa Miler-Fels, Director of Energy Innovation & Impact at Microsoft discussed a slate of company goals, including the removal of historical emissions by 2050. “On our journey that led to this announcement in January, we developed three principles that are leading our sustainability commitment," she said." The first principle is to put data first, and that doesn’t come as a surprise from a company like Microsoft, but we can’t solve a problem that we don’t fully understand. So, we’ve started by calculating our carbon footprint to determine what's Scope 1, what's Scope 2, and what’s Scope 3." The second principle is to "take responsibility for your carbon footprint by focusing on your operation." The third principle is to “empower other partners and customers around the world to also assess and address their own carbon footprint.”

“The Growing Important of Renewable Energy Partnerships”

Discussing the successful partnership developed between Kohler Co. and Enel Green Power, Nathan Nissan, Principal Engineer – Sustainability, Kohler Co. (right), noted that in addition to a high level of expertise needed to complete nuanced transactions, partners “need to be innovative, we need to be creative, we have to be aggressive with each other. We have to really challenge the other partner to get to the point where the proposition that we’re talking about is not slanted toward one company or the other company; it’s a solution that we can both live with.”

Greg Rizzo, Director of Origination for Enel Green Power (left) explained that his company’s position as a developer and owner-operator “allows our corporate partners to get involved in everything that we’re doing onsite early on. When we sign a PPA, the project might be one or two years out from operations, so together we find a plan for the next 12 or 15 years to align our sustainability initiatives with our partner’s initiatives to make sure we’re in this together. These are long-term relationships so we want both sides to succeed in telling the stories that they want to tell.“

 “The Future of Sustainability Strategy”

“Now that we’re in these unprecedented times due to COVID and working from home, we’re seeing some paradigm shifts that are leading us to look at a larger focus around carbon reductions,” said Greg Kandankulam, Senior Manager, Sustainability at NRG Energy. Noting that the year-over-year increase in renewable procurement from 2018 to 2019 was 44%, he asked,  “Once you’ve done that, what are the other operational needs, the efficiency needs, the change in infrastructure needs, transportation, and other aspects of material issues to a company’s impact that need to be addressed? That is what is leading towards these larger conversations around carbon mitigation strategies. There are opportunities beyond just the energy procurement side in terms of pure-play acquisition of electrons that need to be addressed.”

 “Inspiring Diversity in Energy”
Discussing how to bring more diversity to the energy industry, Telisa Toliver, General Manager, Renewable Power at Chevron Pipeline and Power said, “The first thing our industry needs to do is tell our story better. We serve an incredible purpose and we provide energy for people every day and we support their quality of life. I also think we shouldn’t be at odds in telling our story. It’s not either the oil-and-gas industry or sustainability. It’s an and world so we have to tell our story as an industry.” In order to bring more women into the technical side of the industry, she said, “We have to start earlier in the process in terms of math and sciences if we want to have more women engineers. It starts with promoting women to pursue these careers, telling our story better, getting to students earlier, and making sure that they have the support they need to succeed in this space.”

 “Addressing Residual Emissions on the Path to Net Zero”

Stephanie Harris, Director of Carbon Markets at 3Degrees began her session by defining terms: “Residual emissions are any emissions remaining after all technically and economically feasible opportunities to reduce emissions in an organization’s applicable Scopes and sectors have been implemented. So, this could include direct emissions under Scope 1, emissions from purchased electricity in Scope 2, and potentially indirect emissions under Scope 3.” Discussing the challenge of residual emissions, Harris said, “Some large organizations are actually able to influence their suppliers and help implement emission reduction programs in their supply chain, but a lot of organizations may not directly know the suppliers and their supply chain, or it just may take time for their suppliers to take action on their own. So, there’s a real need to address those supply chain emissions and Scope 3 emissions, especially transportation-related emissions, in the near term.”

“Collaborating for Customer-Centricity in Achieving Sustainability Objectives”

Andre Canguçú, Chief Commercial, Industries, and M&A Officer, ENGIE North America, discussed the need to “simplify the procurement contract in order to make it universal and accessible to all players out there. Look at how the industry evolved from the initial RECs - and still, REC is a way of mitigating or procuring renewable power especially in regulated markets – to the growth of traditional corporate PPAs or VPPAs.” He continued by acknowledging that VPPAs have a complicated contractual framework “that requires a specific knowledge base from the counter-parties, that could be expensive to procure, especially for smaller players. We’ve been developing alternative contracting modalities in order to simplify, de-risk, and make it available to smaller players that also have sustainability goals and have desires to consume renewable power.”

“The Evolution of McDonald’s Sustainability Roadmap”

Returning to the Smart Energy Decisions stage 18 months after her initial appearance at the 2019 Innovation Summit, Emma Cox, Global Renewable Energy Lead at McDonald’s updated attendees on the company's target to reduce GHG emissions by 36% by 2030. Cox spoke about “a shift in ambition around not just achieving that goal. We’ve started to think outside of the box and outside of our own goals.” Noting a company motto, “scale for good,” she said, “We’re taking that seriously and looking at how we can achieve our goal but also use our scale to bring others along with us – others meaning small business owners, small cities, buyers that wouldn’t necessarily have access to renewable energy that McDonald's, using our size and scale, can enable for them. What are the ways in which we can help and move the industry and the market forward in order to enable more renewable energy access for more people and more buyers? That’s been our new parallel mission. We’re still very focused on reaching our science-based target but we’ve shifted a little bit to think outside of our own needs and goals. That’s exciting!”


Smart Energy Decisions' 2021 Virtual Innovation Summit is set for March 8-12. Buyer registration for the 2021 Virtual Innovation Summit is limited; for more information, click here. Suppliers may click here for information on sponsorship opportunities.


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