The RE100 programme launch in 2014 is one of the highest profile environmental business initiatives. The programme members was committed to completely convert their energy consumption to renewable energy sources (RE100 is the English abbreviation for 100% renewable power). Now, RE100 members are large companies from 20 countries of the world, in particular, such IT giants, as Microsoft and Google, the IKEA global furniture chain; and, more recently (in early March), RE100 was joined by VISA Company. In 2016, the overall annual power consumption by RE100 members was 163 TWh. So far, 267 companies of the list have completely converted to the use of RES. The green energy purchasing leaders are Google and Amazon. According to Bloomberg estimates, in order to fully convert to RES, RE100 member companies will have to invest about USD 94 bln into the new capacity development. As a result, the gain in the capacity of solar and wind power plants throughout the world will amount to approximately 87 GW.
In the USA, it was the adoption of green tariffs that essentially drove energy producers to get down to substantial generation from RES and to boost their profits; moreover, it benefitted consumer companies, as well, since tariff stimulation had triggered rapid technology development, and many parts of the country wind power became the cheapest and most sustainable energy generation source. In this context, businesses embarked on long-term contracts with local power suppliers. Facebook was among the first, declaring that its Los Lunas Data Centre (New Mexico) from then on would consume only electricity generated by solar and wind power plants. In the state of Michigan, the local energy company Consumers Energy signed an agreement with General Motors and Switch on their energy purchases according to the green tariff. Consumers Energy recently launched the second phase of the Cross Winds wind farm which capacity will suffice to completely meet the demand of the General Motors' Flint metal works and a motor manufacturing plant; and the Switch telecommunications company will consume the wind farm energy to supply its enormous data centre (in Grand Rapids).
Thus, the corporate transition to RES is picking up steam, at times leading to rather odd twists and turns. For example, on March 15, the board of the Norwegian oil company Statoil proposed to rename the company to Equinor, thus signalling the removal of the word 'oil' from its name and its planned business diversification on the energy market. The name will be officially changed at the annual general meeting in May this year; in the meantime, Statoil has been investing considerably into wind power plants. In early March, the company acquired 50% interest in two offshore wind farm construction projects in Poland: in a joint venture with the Polish company Polenergija, Statoil will assume control of the design, construction and subsequent operation of these facilities. Moreover, Statoil is presently building another offshore plant in the German territorial waters; it also owns three projects in the Northern Sea (off the UK shore). Eni, the largest Italian oil and gas company, is going to invest more than a billion euros into RES generating facilities. According to preliminary estimates, the total installed capacity of these Eni renewable energy facilities will amount to 1 GW, and the company will raise it to 5 GW by 2025.