Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The rise of corporate renewables

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Companies worldwide are buying more renewable power than ever, and now some of the biggest U.S. corporations say the Biden administration can help decarbonize the nation's power more quickly.

Why it matters: Corporate procurement of renewables — especially wind and solar — is becoming an important deployment driver as companies take advantage of lower prices and look to meet sustainability pledges.

Driving the news: New data this morning from the research firm BloombergNEF finds that companies secured a record 23.7 gigawatts of new renewables capacity last year despite the pandemic.

  • Most of the deals led to development of new renewables capacity that would not have otherwise been built, per BloombergNEF.
  • The analysis looks at power purchase agreements but excludes onsite developments, which would boost the tally to some extent.

By the numbers: Amazon was the most active company, announcing 35 deals totaling 5.1 gigawatts of capacity.

  • Others in the top five were semiconductor giant TSMC, oil major Total, Verizon, and Facebook.
  • The U.S. was again the largest market, with 11.9 GW worth of power purchase deals, but that was down from 14.1 GW a year earlier.

Separately, a big corporate coalition yesterday released a set of policy ideas that they say can "accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon power sector."

Under the umbrella of the 2-year-old Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, three dozen companies called for a bunch of steps including...

  • Changes to wholesale power market designs that better integrate clean power.
  • New transmission planning and incentives.
  • Federal funding "specifically focused on later-stage demonstration and early deployment of clean energy innovations by the private sector."

Who they are: Companies signing the statement include giants like Google, GM, Facebook, PepsiCo, Amazon, McDonald's, and Microsoft.

Go deeper: What the biggest corporate energy buyers want from federal clean energy policy (Greentech Media)

Go deeper