Corporations in the United States led the way for corporate clean energy procurement in 2018, according to figures released today by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), with over 60% of the global 13.4 gigawatts (GW) signed, blowing away records set in 2017.
Specifically, BNEF reports 13.4 GW worth of clean energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) were signed in 2018 by 121 corporations in 21 different counties, shattering the 6.1 GW record set in 2017 and positioning corporations alongside utilities as the biggest buyers of clean energy in the world.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance published its 1H 2019 Corporate Energy Market Outlook report today, tracking global clean energy Power Purchase Agreements around the world, which showed the United States continues to lead the way, accounting for over 60% of global activity in 2018, signing a total of 8.5 GW — nearly triple that seen in 2017.
Global corporate PPA volumes
Source: BloombergNEF. Note: Data in this report is through 2018. Onsite PPAs not included. Australia sleeved PPAs are not included. APAC number is an estimate. Pre-market reform Mexico PPAs are not included. These figures are subject to change and may be updated as more information is made available.
“Corporations have signed contracts to purchase over 32GW of clean power since 2008, an amount comparable to the generation capacity of the Netherlands, with 86% of this activity coming since 2015 and more than 40% in 2018 alone,” said Jonas Rooze, head of corporate sustainability for BNEF.
Unsurprising, given its repeated announcements, Facebook is the world’s leading purchaser of clean energy, purchasing over 2.6 GW in 2018, working primarily with utilities in regulated US markets through programs known as green tariffs. Facebook purchased threentimes as much clean energy as its next closest competitor, AT&T. ExxonMobil became the first oil major in the world to sign a clean energy PPA for its own operations, signing a 575 MW contract for solar and wind out of Texas.
Meanwhile, some 34 new US companies signed their first clean energy PPAs in 2018, making up 31% of total activity in the United States and highlighting the growing trend of companies seeking clean electricity contracts. These smaller companies are aggregating their electricity demand to benefit from economies of scale from larger wind and solar projects and, in many cases, benefit from partnering with a bigger and more experienced buyer.
“The aggregation model has heralded in a new generation of corporate clean energy buyers,” explained Kyle Harrison, a corporate sustainability analyst for BNEF and lead author of the report. “These companies no longer need to tackle the complexities of clean energy procurement alone. They can share risks associated with credit and energy market volatility with their peers.”
BNEF’s figures align nicely with figures that have been regularly updated by the Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) Business Renewables Center (BRC) Deal Tracker, seen below.
Though making up a much smaller share of the global total, the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (AMEA) region nevertheless purchased record volumes of clean energy in 2018, signing deals for 2.3 GW which is over double what was signed in 2017. Purchasing activity was strongest in the Nordic region which saw aluminum producers Norsk Hydro and Alcoa Corp purchase the largest amount of clean energy in Europe. Multinational technology companies working in Europe also contributed to the region’s total with companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google subsidiary Alphabet all buying clean energy to power their operations abroad.
The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region similarly hit a new corporate procurement record for 2018 with a total of 2 GW worth of clean energy PPAs signed, more than the previous two years combined. However, given restrictions across the majority of the region, this total was the result of 1.3 GW signed in India and another 700 megawatts (MW) signed in Australia.
“For companies that think seriously about sustainable growth, establishing clean energy and decarbonization targets lines up naturally with overall corporate strategies,” said BNEF’s Jonas Rooze. “At the same time, these initiatives have created an entire new universe of opportunity for utilities, clean energy developers and investors.”
Leading this new universe of opportunities is the RE100 initiative, run by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP which, as of writing, now boasts 161 companies from around the world signing on to secure 100% renewable electricity to run their businesses. Further, according to BNEF, these RE100 companies need to purchase an additional 190 terawatt-hours of clean electricity by 2030 to meet their targets, which could in turn catalyse the development of an estimated 102 GW worth of new wind and solar capacity.