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.
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 Consumption; IKEA’s Continued Progress Towards 100% Renewable Energy By 2020; and Solar Hangout With Walmart, IKEA, GM, & Others (VIDEOS).