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Clean Power Red States to Hear about Wind Energy

Published on May 16th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Which Corporations Purchase The Most Clean Energy? EPA’s Top 100 List Provides The Answer

May 16th, 2014 by  

Ever wonder where exactly the energy that powers the operations of the world’s major corporations comes from? Which corporations purchase the most renewable energy?

Well, if you’re interested in knowing, then the EPA’s new Top 100 list on the subject has got you covered. The list is pretty interesting — not everything matches up exactly how you’d expect if you went entirely by public image.

Red States to Hear about Wind Energy

One of the more interesting things to note about the list — which was created from voluntary participants in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership — is the fact that Kohl’s and Intel both buy notably more clean power than Whole Foods does. Perhaps not a surprise to someone who is more intimate with the companies’ workings, but not something that fits with the public image either.

Something important to note about the list, though, is the fact that renewable energy certificates are included — so it isn’t always necessarily actual renewable energy generation… unfortunately. Your opinion on the matter may vary, but, to my mind, it would have been nice to see an accompanying list that didn’t include RECs.

For instance, around 75% of Kohl’s clean energy purchases are via RECs — quite a lot, and certainly not the same thing as purchasing 75% of your energy from actual clean energy companies/projects.

For a bit of a smack down on that subject, read this great and humorous except from a piece published on Grist:

Because the project (let’s say it’s a wind farm) is already built and the developers don’t need more money, and because there are a lot of operating wind farms, the price of the REC is almost nothing — between $1 and $2 per megawatt hour. And because something that costs almost nothing has little value, it is no surprise that it doesn’t do anything to change the CO2 emissions. Indeed, REC brokers and trade groups simply can’t show that a $1 or $2 REC sale has any meaningful impact on wind farm development.

🙂 Don’t you love it when you’re about to go on a big, long rant but then you see that someone else has already articulated your position on the matter for you.

As far as the companies that are actually investing significant money into the development of new renewable energy projects, we’ve covered them all quite a bit.

In that regard, Google has been doing pretty good lately. Recent examples of its work include: its investment in the 265.7 MW Mount Signal Solar Project; its partnership with SunPower to support residential solar power; and its acquisition of Nest Labs, the maker of the Nest Learning Thermostat.

IKEA is also a clear leader in this arena. See: IKEA Wind Farm To Cover 165% Of IKEA’s US Electricity ConsumptionIKEA’s Continued Progress Towards 100% Renewable Energy By 2020; and Solar Hangout With Walmart, IKEA, GM, & Others (VIDEOS).

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About the Author

James Ayre’s background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Renewable energy is an emerging business that has very little history of commercial success. It has to be a business that promises success because nice ideas have a lot of trouble raising money and becoming real, asset-based ventures that really do good things. So to be a business and get money to develop your great idea there has to be a market for the product of your great idea. Recs are an important part of creating the market that makes renewable energy projects viable. And $1 -$2 per Megawatt Hour is not insignificant when you’re trying to raise capital for your project. More importantly, having a power purchase agreement that includes a commitment for payment for Recs from a major company can make your project a reality instead of just an idea. So don’t knock the Rec-trading–it’s not just good, it can be vital.

  • If only energy resources available to the consumer were based on efficiency and actual cost (including the unexcludable economic negative impact of environmental costs), many decades ago we would have stopped using planet polluting energy. We must strive to eliminate corporate energy welfare queen subsidies for both fossil fuels and nuclear poison. Our democracy and a viable biosphere requires it from all of us.

    Old Reactors v. New Renewables: The First Nuclear War of the 21st Century

  • Wayne Williamson

    It seems to me the sub paragraph above the rec is a meanless statement and both are wrong.

    There are only so many recs to go around, and so yes they are a finite commodity. The only way more become available is when additional capacity is added.

    So my comeback is yes, rec purchases do have a positive impact on wind power deployment.

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