Eric Jen, former Director of Renewable Energy at Nike, turned CEO of Ren, is helping the biggest companies on the planet go 100% renewable. Let’s learn more about Ren and his journey to 100% renewable energy.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
In my early years, I built wind projects around the world for the 2nd largest wind company globally. This included the first wind farms in Chile, Panama, and Ecuador. Later, Nike hired me as their Director of Renewable Energy. This eventually evolved into a mandate to take 12,000+ offices, retail stores, warehouses, and factories 100% renewable in 30 countries. We were ranked the #1 corporate renewable energy program in the world in 2018. After 3 “aha” moments at Nike, I decided to start Ren.
The first was the realization (after totaling up Nike’s energy consumption) that Nike has carbon emissions equal to the 94th largest country on the planet, and that’s just one Fortune 500 company.
The second was that all the other companies I saw manufacturing around the world in factories right next to Nike’s, were also committed to going 100% renewable… but they didn’t know how.
The third was an epiphany that the only way for the Fortune 500 to get 100% renewable by 2030 was if a technology could be created that takes thousands of facilities, per company, 100% renewable together at the same time.
So we built Ren. Ren is a SaaS platform that enables companies with global supply chains to source the cleanest energy possible. Ren solves the complex financial, technical, and logistical challenges associated with structuring renewable energy contracts to cover contracted and distributed loads. This unlocks cost savings and the ability to meet carbon commitments on time.
What is a fun fact about you?
In-between more reputable career pursuits, I was once in a mediocre reggae band, and operated a Christmas tree farm driving bulldozers and backhoes. It was awesome.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
We have a limited amount of time to save the planet and make it hospitable for future generations. A critical mass of the population has finally been educated about it. The time for action is now, and these changes will not happen unless a constellation of efforts, including Ren Energy, persevere and push through to take country-sized corporations renewable.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Our goal is to eliminate 1/3 of the world’s carbon emissions by 2030. I envision a world powered by renewable energy, starting from the Fortune 500 companies converting their country-sized loads, and setting the example, plus commercial precedent for everyone else. They can lead the revolution happening in the industry where entities and individuals are starting to directly procure their own de-centralized renewable energy from the source. Fuck the man.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Use your voice and unite with others to pressure the largest consumers of energy in the world (corporations) to go 100% renewable. Use your $$$ as power… only support the clothing companies, banks, and businesses in general that take a stance and have ACTION towards becoming renewable. Vote and support politicians and legislation that will mandate corporations and the government converting to 100% clean power. Net-zero carbon commitments are needed for every state, and for the country as a whole.
Eric, thank you for sharing your vision for taking companies 100% Renewable.
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.