Samsung Elec to join renewables pledge as S.Korea shifts gears on green energy

Highlights :

Samsung, the world’s biggest chipmaker, is late to the green power pledge: It’s been two years since hometown rival SK Hynix joined the RE100 initiative, which sets a 2050 target for 100 per cent renewable electricity, while global peers including Apple, TSMC and Intel are already among its 350 members.

Samsung Electronics plans to join as soon as next month a group of global corporations committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, a person familiar with the matter said, as partners such as Apple Inc push it for action against climate change.

Samsung, the world’s biggest chipmaker, is late to the green power pledge: It’s been two years since hometown rival SK Hynix joined the RE100 initiative, which sets a 2050 target for 100 per cent renewable electricity, while global peers including Apple, TSMC and Intel are already among its 350 members.

The timing of the cautious company’s announcement, expected as early as the May 10 inauguration of South Korea’s new president, will bring it on board just as the country’s energy policy is set for a grand U-turn: away from the prior administration’s aggressive push into renewables, and towards a pro-nuclear stance.

“It will be a group-wide announcement that also includes affiliates such as Samsung Display,” said a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

“The entire group will announce its climate goals including RE100 around when the new administration kicks off,” the source said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The source added that Samsung had discussed with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition committee the regulations and hurdles that discourage the use of renewable energy.

Samsung declined to comment, while the CDP, an environmental non-profit organisation that brings together companies seeking to join RE100, said only that an announcement was expected this year.

“Samsung Electronics told us that it has notified its foreign investors that it would join and announce RE100 within this year,” Kim Tae-han, a senior researcher at the CDP Korean committee, told Reuters.

Yoon has also tapped Han Hwa-jin, a climate specialist and outside director at Samsung, to serve as his government’s environment minister.

The timing of Samsung’s RE100 announcement could depend in part on the appointment of Han’s replacement on the board.

“Samsung needs the legitimacy of all outside directors being present and approving the announcement,” said Lee Jong-oh, director at Korea Sustainability Investing Forum.

Samsung has long acknowledged the risk of inaction on climate change, estimating based on 2020 revenue that up to 25.8 trillion won ($20.6 billion), or 20 per cent, of its business-to-business sales such as chips could be lost if it does not switch to renewable energy.

“Our customers are demanding to produce products using 100 per cent renewable energy to achieve their goals. There is an evident risk that our sales may be affected if these demands are not met,” Samsung said in a statement posted on CDP’s website in 2021.

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