A new report published this week has echoed recent claims that companies are valuing renewable energy for more than the benefit it provides to sustainability goals and are turning to renewables as the most cost-competitive source of new power generation which also avoids energy price volatility.
For a long time, companies looked to renewable energy as a means to meet sustainability goals that, for one reason or another, they had chosen to implement as part of their business practices. Often these goals were driven by investor demand and a desire to clean up the company’s public image. However, recently, the trend has shifted away from these more ‘base’ goals, and just this week a report found that a significant number of Fortune 500 companies are interested in or actively engage in renewable energy purchasing, driven primarily by energy cost reduction — followed by a need to meet greenhouse gas and renewable energy targets.
Doubling down on these findings is a new report published by Apex Clean Energy, in partnership with the GreenBiz Group, which surveyed more than 150 respondents from companies with annual revenues of greater than $250 million, and found that corporate buyers are increasingly looking to renewable energy sources as a cost-competitive source of new power generation that also adds a protective screen against volatile energy prices. Specifically, 84% of those surveyed are actively pursuing or currently considering purchasing renewable energy over the next five to ten years, while 43% plan to be more aggressive in the next 24 months.
57% of those companies surveyed had renewable energy targets, with the primary drivers focusing on addressing energy and emissions goals (70%) and demonstrating corporate leadership (65%). Further, while 65% of companies surveyed listed price as a factor in driving their renewable energy purchasing, more than a quarter of respondents also highlighted value, energy intensity of facilities, length of contract, and credit toward goals.
Further backing up the report published earlier this week by Smart Energy Decisions — which found that 95% of 86 surveyed companies that are actively purchasing or considering purchasing renewable energy saw their interest in renewable energy remain the same or increase, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement — interest in renewable energy remains undaunted.
“This market is rapidly maturing and expanding, providing corporate and industrial purchasers with an immense number of options in terms of offtake, additionality, and financial participation in renewable energy projects,” said Steve Vavrik, chief commercial officer of Apex Clean Energy.
“Improving prices are bringing more purchasers to the table to achieve their sustainability goals,” Vavrik continued. “But the research proves that the market sees sustainability in terms of decarbonization and industry leadership, not just a renewable version of the business-as-usual commodity deal that maximizes market timing. The next steps are enhanced market education to reflect the fast-evolving options now available, and broader coordination to further expand purchasing opportunities through state and federal procurement policies.”
The new report from Apex Clean Energy, the 2017 State of Renewable Energy Procurement survey, also found that corporates are no longer relying on Renewable Energy Credits (REC), driven at least in part by a skepticism that REC purchases are adequately driving new renewable energy capacity and creating real-world greenhouse gas reductions. Companies are now looking at other transaction methods such as project aggregation — where multiple companies sign Power Purchase Agreements from a single large renewable energy project — and utility green tariffs. Onsite renewable energy ownership remains the most common strategy used or considered by companies, at 55% of those responding in the survey, followed by 49% considering or actively purchasing RECs.