Navigant Research Blog

A Sign That Large-Scale, Offsite Renewable Energy Procurement Is Becoming Mainstream

William Tokash — February 1, 2018

In an August 2017 blog, I highlighted how corporate commercial and industrial (C&I) energy facilities and sustainability managers have new options to address their energy management and procurement needs. These managers now hold the keys driving the growth of energy as a service (EaaS) solutions. The move by large C&I energy users to procure renewable energy from large, offsite renewable energy project sits within Navigant Research’s EaaS framework as part of the Offsite Energy Supply solution.

EaaS Delivery Models

The delivery models for this new EaaS solution in the US have been developing over the last few years, due in part to the market capacity development efforts of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewable Center (BRC). While not all US projects are direct procurements, as of the end of 2017, a total of 8 GW of corporate renewable energy deals have been signed in the US and Mexico alone per the BRC.

The early stages of the market for this EaaS solution in the US was driven by pioneers like Google and Microsoft. These companies were primarily interested in putting their money where their mouth is in terms of their innovation and sustainability commitments. But these companies were also focused on how these deals could help mitigate their long-term energy price risk. Given the impact of shale gas on natural gas pricing and low wholesale electricity prices in the US, using this type of procurement solution as a legitimate energy price risk hedging tool has been met with mixed results.

Rocky Mountain Institute Corporate Renewables Data

(Source: Rocky Mountain Institute)

Ready for Risk Mitigation Challenges

However, a recent announcement on a European procurement deal may signal otherwise. In late 2017, Norsk Hydro, a leading European aluminum manufacturer, announced an agreement to purchase wind power from a 650 MW wind farm for 19 years in Sweden starting in 2021. While Norsk Hydro has been previously recognized for its sustainability performance, this announcement indicates that the purchase of large-scale offsite renewable energy is now posed to meet the complex energy price risk mitigation needs of energy-intensive manufacturers that have spent years trying to lower the cost of the energy they use.

Stay Tuned for Research

Later this year, Navigant Research will prepare a comprehensive global research report on the drivers, barriers, transaction models, and market forecasts for these new large-scale, offsite renewable energy procurements as part of the new Utility Customers Solutions research service. Meanwhile, Navigant Research will be closely watching for deals that show this type of energy procurement strategy is moving past a nice-to-have sustainability commitment toward a legitimate component of an enterprisewide energy price hedge strategy.

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