Despite US President Donald Trump pulling his country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, US corporations and institutions are maintaining, and in many cases strengthening, their interest in renewables.
These are the key findings from a new report published this week by research company Smart Energy Decisions, which surveyed executives from 94 US companies and institutions, of which more than 40 are in the Fortune 500. (Also, see below for an infographic outlining the specific details.) The executives were polled on their organizations’ current renewable energy practices and sources, future goals and targets, and the leading factors contributing to efforts to expand their renewable energy portfolios.
The results are fascinating — especially when you place them against Donald Trump’s belief that the Paris Climate Agreement was hampering American development and prosperity. Specifically, of organizations that already do or are interested in purchasing renewable energy, 36% said their interest in renewables had remained the same, while an impressive 59.3% said their interests had increased. Out of this same group, 70.9% already have either a greenhouse gas reduction target or a renewable energy usage target — and 32.6% had both. Further, of those with a greenhouse gas reduction target, 68.6% said their target was tied in to climate science, while 47.4% of organizations with renewable energy targets have a goal to meet 100% of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.
“Organizations are realizing the benefits of renewable energy investments as part of their business, irrespective of the current political climate, because these investments make economic sense,” said Michael Barry, head of sustainable business operations at Bloomberg LP, and a member of the Renewable Energy Sourcing Initiative Steering Committee. “Smart Energy Decisions’ study confirms this and sheds light on the various renewable energy purchase methods that allow companies to use clean energy in a way that best aligns with their strategies.”
The report, Post-Paris: the State of Corporate Renewable Energy Sourcing, clearly delineates a strong trend in corporate America to favor renewable energy sources. The report outlines a number of motivating factors for this strong interest in renewable energy — including more base instincts such as customer demand and to increase their image — but the report nevertheless concludes that “the price and cost savings are the showstoppers.”
“This finding explodes the myth that brand image/marketing value is the leading reason to source renewable energy,” added Smart Energy Decisions founder and editorial director John Failla.
Specifically, energy cost reduction was the single most important factor for 29.1% of organizations that already purchase or are interested in purchasing renewable energy, followed by a 25.6% concern to help meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, and a 16.1% aim to meet renewable energy targets. Brand image was only an 8.1% driving factor, while customer demand only rated 5.8%.
“Basic math initially drove businesses to get serious about energy efficiency, and the same is happening with renewables today,” said Rob Threlkeld, global manager of renewable energy at General Motors and a member of Smart Energy Decisions’ advisory board. “With the cost of renewables consistently falling now, organizations are finding that boosting their efforts here has a multiplier effect on the efficiency measures already in place.”