Mar 28, 2019

Google, Facebook and others look to mainstream corporate renewables

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Google, Facebook, Walmart and other corporate giants have launched a new trade association with hundreds of members aimed at greatly expanding direct renewable power purchases by companies large and small.

Why it matters: The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance is a sign of both the mainstreaming of corporate procurement and a recognition that companies face market barriers, even as wind and solar costs have fallen.

Other companies involved include General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, First Solar, Salesforce, and Citi.

  • Overall, hundreds of companies — spanning energy buyers, renewable power developers and service companies — are taking part, the announcement states.

The big picture: The group hopes to collectively bring more than 60 gigawatts of new renewable capacity online by 2025.

  • That's a lot! As CNBC's Tom DiChristopher points out, that's nearly equal to the total amount of U.S. solar photovoltaic capacity of 64 GW at the end of 2018.
  • Last year saw roughly 6.5 GW added via new corporate renewables deals, according to the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

How it works: The group will provide members with technical assistance, education, data and more to help navigate the complexities of renewables procurement.

  • But at the same time, they hope to push for ways to remove friction from the market, not just help companies overcome it.
  • "The barrier to growth is access, not cost, and that needs to change," Michael Terrell, Google's head of energy market strategy, tells Axios.
  • The group will have the ability to lobby at the state and federal level, but has not yet unveiled its policy agenda.

Where it stands: A bunch of companies including Big Tech have been scaling up renewables procurement in recent years.

  • The new effort is aimed at making it a far wider corporate practice, in part by helping the big companies that have been at the forefront of renewables procurement share their expertise.

Between the lines: Terrell says every company — whether a bakery or a big box retailer — "should have a direct and easy path to buying clean energy."

  • He calls it part of tackling climate change. “We need to be giving every buyer who wants to be clean the opportunity to do that,” Terrell adds.

Flashback: The group has its origins in a partnership developed between RMI, World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, and Business for Social Responsibility several years ago.

  • "The new REBA will be a larger, better-resourced organization than when it was simply a collection of separate programs," RMI spokesperson Nick Steel said in an email.

Go deeper: The corporate renewables surge

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

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