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Brands collaborate ​in a challenging market ​to ​advance ​solar energy ​investments ​with suppliers

Clean energy is best achieved by collective action. And that’s exactly what REI, Burton, and NEMO Equipment set out to do through OIA’s Vietnam Renewable Energy Impact CoLab. In collaboration with Allotrope Partners, these brands ideated sustainable solutions and accelerated their transition to cleaner energy. Vietnam is a key manufacturing hub for many OIA members, but its carbon-intensive electricity grid means it is a large source of greenhouse gas emissions. Vietnam’s growing clean energy market has opened the door for financially attractive on-site rooftop solar projects and off-site renewable energy procurement. However, COVID-related supply chain disruptions and evolving regulations have posed significant challenges in the Vietnam renewable energy market. These challenges inspired OIA to launch the Vietnam Renewable Energy CoLab to support members in navigating the challenging renewable energy landscape together. By bringing members together through the CoLab, members and their suppliers could collaborate on shared solutions to more effectively transition to renewable energy.  

“NEMO was excited to partner with Burton, REI, OIA, and Allotrope on the Vietnam Renewable Energy CoLab. NEMO has set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 50% by 2030. So far, we’ve achieved a 36% reduction in emissions intensity per product, but to reach our goals, we need to partner with our supply chain. This CoLab is an example of collective action helping to accelerate emissions reductions,” Theresa McKenney, Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs, NEMO Equipment. 

OIA’s Impact CoLabs are collaborative, pre-competitive, emissions reduction initiatives led by OIA and service providers to help members meet their sustainability goals in less time and with less cost by working together. The Vietnam Renewable Energy CoLab focused on accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy future by supporting suppliers with rooftop solar evaluations. The Impact CoLab enabled REI, Burton and NEMO to work collaboratively with suppliers to install 3.5 MW of power across five supplier facilities in Vietnam. 

“In order to achieve REI’s goal of more than halving emissions by 2030, we have to do a great deal of work with partners—from our manufacturing facilities to retailed brands. The CoLab presented an opportunity to engage deeply in that shared work. Our suppliers were able to gain a clear understanding of the “what”, “how” and “why” of procuring rooftop solar electricity in Vietnam”, said Evan Scandling, Supply Chain Decarbonization Lead, REI.

CoLab Results + Impact

The Vietnam Renewable Energy CoLab included five industry suppliers that joined together in an RFP that produced bids for five on-site rooftop systems totaling 3.5 MW, with power purchase agreement (PPA) prices ranging from 8-20% below the buyers’ current electricity rates and covering between 25-35% of the facilities’ electricity needs. Over the life of this project, market conditions have continued to evolve, with government approvals of operating and construction permits emerging as a challenge, along with buyer concerns over their ability to prioritize clean energy procurement during tough financial times. As the supplier facilities continue to work toward clean energy solutions, these proposals serve as a starting point and guidepost for what’s possible. 

Michelle Murphy Rogers, Senior Director of Allotrope’s Clean Energy Advisory Practice notes, “The OIA CoLab process offers an amazing opportunity to explore innovations on renewable energy procurement in a low-risk environment. This project incorporated time and cost-saving approaches to engage project developers and evaluate proposals that can be used in future procurements. Current market challenges in Vietnam underscore the need to work together to pursue new innovations like engaging buyers and developers to pair on-site solar with battery energy storage solutions to maximize system sizes and enhance reliability. 

“Allotrope was a great partner throughout the project. They worked directly with our supplier to review the process, clearly laid out the evaluation of proposals, and worked hard to overcome challenges in a highly complex regulatory environment. We gleaned valuable learnings from the process”, said Emily Foster, Director of People & Planet Impact at Burton. 

Pre-Competitive Collaboration: OIA’s Impact CoLabs  

Climate change is one of, if not the most, crucial issues the outdoor industry faces today. If there is not a thriving environment to recreate in, outdoor businesses do not have a future. Collaboration is necessary to significantly reduce climate impacts in the outdoor industry; the problem is too large for individual companies to solve on their own. Companies must work together to decarbonize the global supply chain, and OIA provides an avenue with a clear path to do just that. OIA’s Impact CoLabs are collaborative, pre-competitive, emissions reduction initiatives led by OIA and service providers to help members meet their sustainability goals in less time and with less cost by working together.  Through OIA’s six Impact CoLabs, 19 OIA members have invested in collaborative emissions reduction projects across their supply chains – working collectively to maximize impact and protect our planet.  

“OIA recognizes that tackling climate action goals and reducing emissions can be a daunting journey for individual member companies. However, we also recognize the power of collective action. If we collaborate, we can move faster and realize significant emissions reductions. Through collaborations such as the Vietnam Renewable Energy CoLab, OIA supports members in making lasting impacts across their supply chains”, said Breana Nehls, OIA Sustainable Business Innovation Manager. “Together, we can be a force for sustainable growth.”