Aug 15, 2018

The corporate renewables surge

Photo: William Campbell/Corbis/Getty Images

Two recent analyses arrive at the same conclusion: U.S. corporate deals to directly purchase renewable power will shatter previous records this year as companies including Facebook and Apple expand their contracting.

Why it matters: Separate data from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the consultancy Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) signal how power purchase agreements are emerging as an important driver of wind and solar expansion, even as the White House abandons U.S. climate goals.

Between the lines: Two big forces are driving the increases in direct procurement — corporate environmental pledges and falling renewables costs.

By the numbers:

  • RMI's Business Renewables Center, which helps companies navigate deals, said new corporate procurement so far this year totals 3.86 GW, already outstripping the prior record of 3.12 GW for 2015.
  • BNEF, which uses slightly different methodology, shared data with Axios showing nearly 4.2 GW of U.S. procurement so far this year. (It's part of a wider BNEF analysis noting worldwide corporate purchasing has already set a new record this year.)
  • Both groups say that Facebook has been the biggest player this year, citing their mid-July announcement of a deal with Pacific Power to build 437 MW worth of solar projects to supply an Oregon data center.

What they're saying:

"This trend is somewhat inoculated from federal policy. There's no specific federal policy that incentivizes corporates to pursue large-scale renewable energy transactions per se, and companies are largely pursuing these transactions due to their commitments to corporate social responsibility."
— Kevin Haley, manager, Business Renewables Center

BNEF's analysis similarly notes that many corporate sustainability plans to cut or offset carbon emissions create incentives for supporting renewables projects.

  • "Activity would not approach current levels if there were no opportunity for long-term savings," BNEF adds.

To be sure: In the wider climate context, federal policy matters a lot.

  • This recent Rhodium Group report shows how White House plans to scuttle or weaken several Obama-era rules will knock the U.S. even further off the trajectory to meet the U.S. commitment under the Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26%–28% by 2025.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.