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Banking on clean energy (industry insights)





April’s Industry Insight explored how major oil and gas (O&G) companies such as BP, ExxonMobil and Shell were responding to industry shifts and a global cultural re-evaluation towards traditional energy sources and electrical consumption.

It conveyed how despite their prominence in the industry, these companies face intense scrutiny from Government bodies and environmentalists alike to lead sustainable change. The article investigated what suitable measures the O&G industries currently undertake as well as the options available to exercise in the near future.

However, it is clear that businesses of all descriptions need to be more careful and considerate of the environment in which they operate. In this Industry Insight, Powerstar summarises the efforts that businesses in the financial sector are going to in order to achieve this and includes:

  • A global effort
  • Financial focus
  • An insight analysis
A global effort

The magnitude of the task that businesses across all industries face is best summarised through alliances such as the RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative with the key goal of “Bringing together major companies committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity globally in the shortest possible timeline and by 2050 at the latest.”[1]

The alliance was founded in New York in 2014 and the initiative has since expanded across Europe, North America, India and China, whilst also seeing rapid growth in Japan and Australia. It contains in excess of 170 of the world’s most influential companies who are genuinely committed to achieving and continuously practicing with 100% renewable power energy sources, with famous names including HSBC, ING and Goldman Sachs, RE100’s purpose is to accelerate the change towards zero carbon grids at a global scale. “

By setting a high standard for corporate leadership on renewable generation, the RE100 does not shy away from holding members to account whilst also celebrating their achievements and encouraging others to follow, particularly as they effectually communicate an incredibly compelling business case for renewables to companies, utilities, market operators, policymakers and other key influencers.

Financial focus

The RE100 initiative requires all members to make a public commitment to the consumption of 100% renewable electricity, this may include sources such as biomass, geothermal, solar, water or wind and it must be sourced either from the market or be self-produced.

The Barclays Energy and Climate Change Statement, published in January 2019 recognises how “climate change represents one of the greatest challenges faced by the world today,” as “Banks have an important role to play in ensuring that the world’s energy needs are met while helping to limit the threat climate change poses to people and to the natural environment.”

As the RE100 published in June, Barclays has set goals to back up this pledge having now committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity for its global operations by 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2025, as well as reducing its global emissions by 80% by 2025, once the interim target is reached.

Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, stated that; “When one of the world’s largest banking institutions commits to 100% renewable electricity, the message is clear – sourcing clean power makes financial sense.”

Barclays is not alone, in excess of 25 financial groups consisting of banks, insurers and financial advisory groups have registered with RE100 under the 100% renewable electricity pledge.

Elsa Palanza, Global Head of Sustainability and Citizenship at Barclays, believes “Banks have a broad environmental and social impact – both through our own operational footprint, as well as through the ways that we mobilise capital, advise clients, and develop products. Joining RE100 and committing to sourcing 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources enables us to minimise our direct carbon emissions while we continue to work with our clients to help facilitate the global transition to less carbon-intensive sources of energy.”

An insight analysis – the business case of 100% renewable

The measures being taken by the banking industry are indicative of a sympathetic understanding of how business can play a critical part in the active progress in the transition towards a low carbon economy.

The business case for maximising renewable electricity generation exists whether an organisation is a worldwide multinational or a local manufacturer when combined with other technologies.

For example, Powerstar VIRTUE can assist sites in reducing their import from the grid whilst ensuring continuous operations unaffected by intermittency of renewable generators. This is because it utilises energy produced by both renewable and non-renewable sources and stores it for discharge when required. This allows users to be fully independent of the grid and switch to stored electricity at a time most beneficial by storing renewable generation when conditions are optimal and time-shifting it for use when demand requires. This allows for organisations to maximise the amount of renewable energy used and therefore allow them to maximise the return on investment from on-site generation technologies such as solar PV and wind in addition to accelerating their journey towards carbon neutrality.

VIRTUE, Powerstar’s behind-the-meter battery energy storage solution, allows for greater control and flexibility of electricity usage by providing an integrated energy management and microgrid solution with smart grid control. Powerstar’s VIRTUE is made bespoke to every client’s individual needs and requirements and is therefore fully adaptable to every site.

The benefits of Powerstar VIRTUE can also be maximised through integration with other smart energy technologies such as voltage optimisation and distribution power transformers. These technologies can be further optimised through the use of remote monitoring technology to view the performance of the assets at any time and from anywhere with a secure internet connection. Such a combination and optimisation of smart technologies is a reliable way of moving towards clean energy whilst minimising the financial and operational risk of doing so by completely integrating into the smart grid.

In conclusion

There is now a collective understanding that energy consumption must take centre stage in company policy and ethics, and organisations like RE100 are making this happen. What is most exciting is that the solutions exist today to take giant strides towards these ambitious targets in the form of Powerstar VIRTUE and other smart energy technologies which you can learn more about by contacting one of our experts by clicking here.

[1] RE100 Climate Group

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