Seoul, South Korea — Samsung Electronics is turning away from fossil fuels and aiming to run its global operations entirely with clean electricity by 2050, a difficult goal that experts say could be hindered by South Korea’s modest commitments on climate change.
Based in South Korea Samsung It is the largest producer of computer memory chips and smartphones and, by some estimates, the largest consumer of energy among the hundreds of global companies that have joined the “RE100” campaign to get 100% of our electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power.
Announcing its goal Thursday, the company said it aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its mobile, television and consumer electronics divisions by 2030, and across all global operations including semiconductors by 2050.
It plans to invest 7 trillion won ($5 billion) through 2030 in projects aimed at reducing emissions from process gases, controlling and recycling electronic waste, conserving water and reducing pollutants. It plans to develop new technologies to reduce power 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 emissions reduction, new sustainability practices, and the development of innovative technologies and products that are better for our planet,” said Jung Hee Han, CEO of the company. Email statement.
Samsung’s plan has won praise from some of its investors, including the director of Dutch pension fund APG, who said the company could make a “significant contribution” to cleaning up South Korea’s electricity market, given its impact and impact on the national economy.
But APG has also expressed concern that Samsung’s announcement comes at a time when South Korea is backing away from its climate change goals.
The conservative government of President Yoon Seok-yeol, who took office in May, has focused much of its energy policy on promoting nuclear-powered electricity. In a desperate attempt to boost the weakening economy, the Yoon government has also signaled its reluctance to sharply reduce the country’s dependence on coal and gas, which generate about 65% of South Korea’s electricity.
South Korea got 7.5% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2021, well below the 30% average among the rich countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Yoon government recently revised the country’s renewable energy target to 21% of the total energy mix by 2030, loosening the 30% target announced by his liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in.
Samsung has acknowledged that it will struggle to switch to renewable electricity sources at home compared to its overseas operations, as it aims to have 100% clean energy by 2027. It said South Korea’s renewable energy supply “is beginning to expand but remains limited.” , while its electricity needs continue to rise as it boosts production in domestic semiconductor lines to meet global demand.
“As a long-term investor in Korea, we are concerned about how the government plans to reconcile the industry’s critical need for clean electricity to remain relevant in the long term,” he said in a statement.
Samsung, South Korea’s largest, has faced mounting pressure to do more to reduce carbon emissions as it has fallen behind some of its peers on climate commitments. These companies include Apple, a major buyer of Samsung chips, which joined the RE100 in 2016 and plans to be carbon-neutral across its entire commercial and manufacturing supply chains by 2030, putting pressure on its suppliers to meet these requirements.
Samsung is the crown jewel of an export-led economy driven by the manufacturing of semiconductors, automobiles, display panels, mobile phones, and ships, industries that tend to have high energy consumption.
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 such as Google, Apple, Meta, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
Osam Jin of the Seoul-based Renewable Energy Corporation said Samsung’s adoption of clean electricity could have major effects on the supply chain, prompting other companies to boost their renewable energy supplies.
“Most importantly, Samsung’s commitment to the RE100 sends a strong signal to the renewable energy market and policy makers to increase renewable energy supply considering the company’s massive use of electricity,” Jin said.