It may seem like a no-brainer, but Longi, the world’s largest manufacturer of monocrystalline solar modules, last week officially joined The Climate Group’s RE100, committing to powering its global operations entirely with renewable energy by 2028, but also setting an interim target of using 70% renewable energy supply by 2027.
In a statement the company declared that from 2006 until 2015, it had used “traditional energy to produce clean energy”. Since then Longi says it has, to a large extent, used hydropower at its manufacturing facilities in China’s Yunnan and Malaysia’s Kuching regions and significant rooftop solar installations on its factories to power manufacturing.
Although the company doesn’t name the level to which it is currently powered by renewable sources, its RE100 pledge will have to keep up with a phenomenal projected rate of expansion of Longi production capacity.
In September 2019, it announced its aspiration to achieve 27 GW of annual ingot production, 25 GW of solar wafer production, 10.25 GW of cell capacity and 20 GW of modules manufactured.
In January this year, Longi’s module production capacity came closer to 21 GW, as its new 10 GW mono crystalline module production facility in Chuzhou started running at full capacity and the company’s Phase II 5 GW plant was also close to finalising construction.
Megawatt hours of power to grow green gigawatt production
“Joining the global RE100 initiative is Longi’s commitment to the sustainable future of the world. We will take concrete steps to ensure that our commitments are achieved,” said Li Zhenguo, Founder and President of Longi last week.
The solar manufacturer joins corporations such as IKEA, Mars, Microsoft, Chanel, Sony, Tata Motors, LEGO, Visa and BayWa on the RE100 list. In Australia, trailblazers such as Atlassian, Dexus, Mirvac, Bank Australia, ANZ, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have also inked their RE100 intention.
At Longi’s Sydney office, Global Marketing Project Manager, Yvonne Zhao, told pv magazine, “We’re really proud of Longi, not just because they joined RE100, but because we work in this industry. In my personal opinion, it is for the environment, for our current way of life, and also for the future.”
She added, “Solar for solar is a very meaningful business,” referring to Longi’s aim of powering its renewable industry with renewable energy.
In September last year, JinkoSolar laid claim to being the first global solar manufacturer to take up the RE100 challenge, when it committed to becoming 100% powered by renewables by 2025.
It also signed up for the EP100 Cooling Challenge — intended to apply energy efficiencies to mitigate the growing use of energy to cool buildings and facilities even as the climate warms.
Wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, is another renewable giant on the RE100 list, and has the distinction of having sourced 100% of its energy supply from renewable sources since 2013.
Suffusing corporate culture with renewables
Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group congratulated Longi on its commitment last week, saying in a statement, “The Climate Group and Longi are fully aligned in the concept of sustainable development. We hope to work with Longi to jointly promote the rapid development of global renewable energy.”
Clean-energy-industry powerhouses wield significant influence in the global corporate sphere, a factor recognised by The Climate Group which on 12 March also signed an agreement between RE100 and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), “to spur greater corporate commitment to renewable electricity sourcing in emerging markets”.
CEO of GWEC, Ben Blackwell, said at the time that, “streamlining procurement processes will be crucial to enable the energy transition, and this is particularly significant in the Asia-Pacific region where there is significant industrial activity that still relies on fossil fuels.”