Five predictions for corporate renewables

If you want to predict where the renewable energy industry is headed, you simply have to look toward the world’s largest technology companies.

Tech titans like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have always been at the forefront of renewable energy procurement, and recently mid-sized companies like Salesforce have also pushed the industry forward.

As the world’s largest purchasers of electricity, they’ve wielded their immense buying power to transform the industry. They set the bar when it comes to corporate sustainability goals, and every year they move that bar higher.

As we head into 2021, these are the new goalposts that we predict corporate renewable energy buyers will be striving toward as a result of the tech titan’s leadership.


This article was originally published in The Guide

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Social justice will be a key consideration

This year corporate buyers want to evaluate social justice criteria when selecting a renewable energy project for a power purchase agreement. These buyers not only want to know how the

project will positively impact the community – such as reducing pollution, generating tax revenue, and creating jobs: they also want to know how the developer of the project treats its employees, including diversity and fair pay. They also want to ensure that the developer creates supply chain accountability, and adheres to responsible business practices.

More companies will aim to be 100% renewable… all the time

Companies can claim they are ‘100% renewable’ by purchasing enough clean energy to cover the amount of energy they use on an annual basis – not an hourly basis. In other words, ‘100% renewable’ means that in many hours of the day, companies are consuming more than the renewable energy they’re buying. So, even though these companies may have achieved a ‘100% renewable’ goal, fossil fuels are required to support their energy demand. Every technology company contributes to this.

Google wants to eliminate the need for fossil fuels all together by matching the time of renewable energy generation to the time the energy is consumed. To get there, the company has developed new technology that shifts the electricity demands of its largest data centres to match clean energy supply. The company is also looking for ways to improve its renewable energy procurement through PPAs.

More companies will commit to reduce scope 3 emissions through supply chain programmes

Scope 3 emissions are those caused by the production and use of a company’s products, and are often that company’s largest source of emissions. Unlike Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which a corporation can reduce through energy efficiency and renewable energy procurement, Scope 3 emissions are out of the company’s direct control.

One way corporations can assist their suppliers in purchasing clean energy is through buyer aggregation: the corporation can team up with multiple suppliers to purchase the entire output of a project.

Storage will be added to PPA portfolios

In 2021, corporations won’t just be signing PPAs with wind and solar projects, they’ll also be doing deals with utility-scale storage projects. LevelTen has helped clients enter into storage agreements this year, and together with our partners,

we expect more to come in 2021. Storage projects have the unique ability to charge when electricity prices are low and sell when electricity prices are high, enabling offtakers to capture the difference and balance wholesale market exposure in their renewable energy portfolio.

The need for speed will drive innovation

Many of the tech companies’ most ambitious sustainability targets are set for 2030. While a decade may feel like a long time, it can take years to develop, finance and build a new renewable energy project. At the same time, these companies have to keep up with a constantly-growing demand for energy. It’s not enough to cover their current energy usage, they also need to be prepared to cover what they’ll be using years from now. Corporations are up against the clock, and can’t sign deals fast enough. The current PPA process is too manual and time consuming to meet their needs. We predict that new solutions will arise, either from the tech titans themselves
or from other market participants, to facilitate faster renewable energy transactions.

This article was originally published in The Guide

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