Samsung Electronics is moving away from fossil fuels and aims to power its global operations entirely with clean electricity by 2050, a challenging goal that experts say could be hampered by South Korea’s modest climate change commitments.
Samsung, headquartered in South Korea, is one of the leading manufacturers of memory chips for computers and smartphones and, by some estimates, the largest energy consumer among hundreds of global companies that have joined the “RE100” campaign to get 100. % of electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy.
In announcing its target on Thursday, the company said it aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions in its mobile, display and consumer electronics divisions by 2030 and across all global operations, including semiconductors, by 2050. .
It plans to invest 7 trillion won ($ 5 billion) by 2030 in projects aimed at reducing process gas emissions, controlling and recycling electronic waste, conserving water and minimizing pollutants. It plans to develop new technologies to reduce energy consumption in consumer electronics and data centers, which would require more efficient memory chips. It will also set long-term goals to reduce emissions in supply chains and logistics.
“Samsung is responding to the threats of climate change with a comprehensive plan that includes reducing emissions, new sustainability practices and developing innovative technologies and products that are better for our planet,” said Jong-Hee Han, CEO of the company. , in a statement sent by e-mail.
Samsung’s plan was praised by some of its investors, including Dutch pension fund manager APG, who said the company could potentially make a “significant contribution” to cleaning up South Korea’s electricity market, considering its impact and influence on the national economy.
But APG also expressed concern that Samsung’s announcement comes at a time when South Korea has given up on its climate change goals.
President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative government, which took office in May, has focused much of its energy policy on promoting nuclear-generated electricity. Desperate to revive a weak economy, Yoon’s government has also indicated a reluctance to drastically reduce the country’s reliance on coal and gas, which generate about 65% of South Korea’s electricity.
South Korea obtained 7.5% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2021, significantly less than the average of 30% among the wealthy nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yoon’s government recently adjusted the country’s renewable energy target to 21% of the total energy mix by 2030, softening the 30% target announced by its liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in.
Samsung acknowledged that it would have a harder time converting to renewable electricity sources at home than its overseas operations, where it aims to achieve 100% clean energy by 2027.
“As a long-term investor in Korea, we are concerned about how the government intends to reconcile the desperate need of the clean electricity sector to remain relevant over the long term,” Yoo-Kyung Park, APG’s Responsible Investment and Governance Officer for Asia Pacific, a statement read.
Samsung, South Korea’s largest company, faced increasing pressure to do more to reduce its carbon emissions as it had fallen behind some of its peers in climate commitments. These companies include Apple, a major buyer of Samsung chips, which joined RE100 in 2016 and plans to be carbon neutral across its entire corporate and manufacturing supply chain by 2030, putting pressure on its suppliers to meet these requirements.
Samsung is the flagship of an export-dependent economy driven by the manufacturing of semiconductors, automobiles, display panels, cell phones and ships – industries that tend to be energy-intensive.
Samsung used 25.8 terawatt hours of electricity for its operations last year, nearly double the amount consumed by all households in the South Korean capital of Seoul and more than other global tech giants like Google, Apple, Meta, Intel and Taiwan. Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
Samsung’s adoption of clean electricity could have significant effects on the supply chain, prompting other companies to increase their renewable energy supplies, said Jin Woo-sam of the Seoul-based Corporate Renewable Energy Foundation.
“Most significantly, Samsung’s RE100 commitment sends a strong signal to the renewable energy market and policy makers to increase the supply of renewable energy given the company’s massive use of electricity,” said Jin.