Corporate clean energy purchases smash record in 2018
Businesses obtained 13.4GW of clean energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) in 2018, more than doubling the record set in the previous year.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) research shows more than 2.6GW of renewables were purchased by Facebook alone last year, with a total of 8.5GW of clean energy bought by US companies. ExxonMobil became the first oil major to sign a clean energy PPA for its own operations, purchasing 575MW of solar and wind in Texas.
Record volumes of clean energy were purchased in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, with deals signed for 2.GW, doubling the 1.1GW signed in 2017.
A major feature in the US was the emergence of smaller, first-time corporate clean energy buyers, many of which partnered with bigger companies to reap the benefits of larger solar and wind projects.
“The aggregation model has heralded in a new generation of corporate clean energy buyers,” said Kyle Harrison, a corporate sustainability analyst for BNEF and lead author of the report. “These companies no longer need to tackle the complexities of clean energy procurement alone. They can share risks associated with credit and energy market volatility with their peers.”
‘New universe of opportunity’
Companies have signed contracts to purchase more than 32GW of clean power since 2008, an amount comparable to the generation capacity of the Netherlands, with 86% of this activity coming since 2015 and more than 40% in 2018 alone.
BNEF highlights the potential for business-led clean energy platforms such as the RE100 to push forward the global corporate procurement agenda. RE100 companies will need to purchase 190TWh of clean energy in 2030 to meet their renewable targets, according to BNEF. This would catalyse an estimated 102GW of new solar and wind build globally.
BNEF head of corporate sustainability Jonas Rooze said: “For companies that think seriously about sustainable growth, establishing clean energy and decarbonisation targets lines up naturally with overall corporate strategies. At the same time, these initiatives have created an entire new universe of opportunity for utilities, clean energy developers and investors.”
The news comes in the same week that Germany agreed to end its reliance on polluting coal power stations by 2038, in a long-awaited decision that will have major ramifications for Europe's attempts to meet its Paris climate change targets.
Earlier this month, BNEF revealed that that global clean energy investment fell 8% last year to $332.1bn (£257.6bn). The research cited the Chinese crackdown on solar subsidies and the falling cost of wind and solar projects as major factors for the downturn in investment.