Commercial, Distributed Generation, Finance, Industrial, Solar, Wind - December 19, 2022
SED’s 2022 Renewable Energy Forum/Winter Edition Wrap-Up
Smart Energy Decisions (SED) ended the year with the Renewable Energy Forum/Winter Edition, held December 6-8, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Resort in Huntington Beach, California. With a program that included peer-2-peer discussions, general educational sessions, Solution Spotlight sessions, countless chances for networking, and more than 250 exclusive one-to-one meetings between energy customers and suppliers, the Forum offered a variety of opportunities to discuss strategies and projects to help organizations develop strategies and implement projects to meet their renewable energy targets.
“The goals of the renewable energy forum are etched in stone,” said John Failla, SED’s founder, in his welcome to the community. “We’re here for one reason: to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. We do that by helping large power users develop their net zero roadmaps in creating peer-to-peer networking opportunities for buyers. And like no one else in the industry, we bring corporate buyers and suppliers together to advance projects in the interest of their mutual success. It’s all about fostering collaboration among customers, suppliers, and communities.”
The Renewable Energy Forum was also the first event since September 15, 2022, when SED became part of Diversified Communications, a company that has a solid and steadfast commitment to clean energy.
In his introduction, Wes Doane, Group Event Director, Diversified Communications said, “I oversee our clean energy portfolio events, which now includes SED, so we’re very excited to be a part of this event.” He noted that SED events are “a breed of its own, especially with the value of the one-to-one meetings,” and added, “The amount of engagement and energy that attendees – both buyers and suppliers - bring to the Forum is really impressive.”
Following are brief highlights from the Renewable Energy Forum’s General Session:
Opening Keynote: “McCormick’s Recipe for Success – An 'All of the Above' Sustainability Strategy"
“The reason we have an ‘all of the above strategy’ is that no one method of reducing greenhouse gases is going to get us to where we need to go, so we have to take a multi-pronged approach,” explained Jeff Blankman, Sustainable Manufacturing Manager, McCormick & Company. Introducing the company’s purpose-led performance program for sustainability, Blankman said, “In business, we want to beat our competitors, but when it comes to sustainability, if we are the only ones who win, we’re all going to be worse off. This is one of the reasons I enjoy speaking at this event, to spread the gospel and get more people inspired and engaged.”
Keynote: “How General Motors Hit 100% RE in the U.S. a Generation Ahead of Schedule”
In October 2022, GM announced it had hit its 100% renewable energy goal 25 years ahead of its initial 2050 target, and 5 years ahead of its accelerated target of 2030 (set in 2021). Rob Threlkeld, GM’s Senior Manager - Power and Utility Strategy noted that “the renewable goal was actually our first bold goal as a company to set something long-term into our future. And as big a purchaser of energy as we are, around seven terawatt hours, it is only 1% of our carbon emissions. So when we think about getting to zero emissions, it is critical as we transform the transportation industry to electric vehicles that we think about it in the broad context of what we're doing, not just in our procurement efforts, but also in our work with policymakers and utilities as we scale up our efforts.”
Smart Energy Decisions Sustainability Update
Alexandra Failla, SED’s Director of ESG and Administration, said, “This year, SED was proud to be the first energy-focused business-to-business media company to showcase progress across three key sustainability dimensions: environmental, social, and governance. We first announced our sustainability commitment one year ago today at the 2021 Winter Renewable Energy Forum.” As part of her update, Failla said, “Our sustainability strategy highlights how helping others navigate the energy transition is central to the mission and values of SED. Our initiatives give opportunities for improvement through the ESG framework. We are also excited to grow SED with Diversified Communications’ many resources. We look forward to assisting them in developing their sustainability strategy moving forward as we also continue helping companies navigate the energy transition in a sustainable manner.
“Navigating the Evolving Renewable Landscape”
“Certainly, everybody here is well aware that there have been some headwinds and volatility in the last couple of years,” said Kevin Arritt, Director, Renewable Strategy & Policy, NRG, in conversation with SED’s Debra Chanil, Director of Editorial and Research. “All businesses are thinking about inflation and supply chain shortages, and those are, of course, impacting the renewable energy industry in a big way. But there are also issues that are more specific to the renewable industry, one being interconnection. But when we look at the IRA [Inflation Reduction Act], there are some nice tailwinds. And even with these headwinds, there has been insatiable demand - the renewable market has been really, really strong. We're still breaking records every year for renewable deployment. We see new buyers entering the market and experienced buyers chasing different opportunities.
“Meeting Renewable Energy Goals: A Portfolio View”
“VF Corporation has very bold and ambitious renewable energy goals that are supported by science-based targets,” said Quen Howard, Procurement Manager, VF Services, LLC of the global apparel company. “We have a goal to utilize 100% renewable energy by 2026. Right now we are 34% towards that goal. We also have very ambitious goals to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 55% by 2030. And finally, we will reduce Scope 3 by 30% by 2030.” Quen described these plans as a company-wide effort. “We are supported by executive leadership from the top down, but it does also require multiple stakeholder involvement and engagement throughout the organization. But we are a purpose-driven company and these goals are right in line with our purpose.” He added, “All of our brands support these corporate initiatives.”
Hourly Carbon-Free Matching – The Next Evolution of Carbon-Free Purchasing
Discussing what he expects to see in 2023, Ben Chadwick, Executive Director, Renewables, Constellation, said, “Hopefully we can start seeing a rapid pace of renewables transactions again because there certainly is the corporate and institutional demand for it. We’re starting to see a lot more scrutiny on the credibility of these transactions. You're seeing the SEC looking into disclosures. Big accounting firms are building huge businesses around GHG emissions reporting. And in this marketplace, suppliers have to make sure we're providing the credible, verified information that all of our customers need associated with these transactions.” Noting that the standard of renewable energy procurement is an annual one, he continued, “You need to make sure that you've matched every megawatt hour you consume in the year with a REC from that year. That doesn't necessarily mean that every hour you were consuming energy, it was being matched by a unit of carbon-free energy that hour. Is that ever going to be possible? The answer is yes.”
Luke Penne, Sr. BDM, Offsite Renewables, Constellation, continued, “Where we see innovation in the market is matching 24/7. As we look at the next decade, how does the market set up the correct framework to get there, encouraging investments in the right technologies, and help grid operators keep the lights on with carbon-free energy?” Penne referred to a number of studies, including one from Technical University of Berlin, “which just put out a report comparing the impact of sort of status quo procurement today, versus if we adopt an hourly framework. And the differences are stark. It encourages a ton of new innovative investment.”
Smart Energy Decisions' next event is the Net Zero Forum/Spring Edition, set for March 15-17, 2023 at the La Cantera Resort & Spa, San Antonio, Texas. Buyer registration is limited; for more information on the event, including SED’s Educational Grant Program, click here. Suppliers may click here for information on sponsorship opportunities.