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Corporate Sustainability Continues to Drive Integrated Clean Energy

Jessie Mehrhoff
Apr 30, 2019

Smart Cities

Subscribers to any number of energy-related newsletters will note that in 2018, mentions of corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) deals for renewable energy procurement continuously made headlines. According to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), 6.53 GW of corporate renewable deals were signed in 2018. This is nearly 2.5 times the number of deals signed in 2017 and includes PPAs, green power purchases, green tariffs, and project ownership. Despite a slowing in PPA uptake in the first quarter of 2019, corporate efforts to procure clean energy are resulting in a myriad of green power purchasing mechanisms, including and beyond those listed above. For example, in the fall of 2018, Microsoft announced its value firming agreement as a tool to reduce the complexity and risk associated with clean energy procurement.

Corporate Renewable Deal Growth, 2014-2018

Corporate Renewable Deals 2014-2018

(Source: Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance)

Sustainability Is About More than Procuring Green Power

While applause can be given to corporations growing their reliance on clean power, corporate sustainability as it relates to energy is about more than just procuring renewables. Globally, when looking at the growing demand for energy, not only is it important to operate businesses on green energy, but effort must also be made to try to use that energy more responsibly. Corporate energy sustainability is about more than renewable power, and sustainable energy use must be taken to the next level through the following:

  • Securing energy savings. By enrolling in energy efficiency and demand response programs, companies reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) have the option to share energy efficiency spending measures for improved CDP scores. Beyond energy efficiency, all energy assets should be part of demand response programs or virtual power plants, strategically opening the flexibility of these resources to grid-operator use, often in exchange for financial compensation.
  • Implementing beneficial electrification. Electrification can be beneficial if implemented cross company campus resources and electric vehicle fleets. The Climate Group notes that businesses own more than 50% of vehicles on the road. As of January 2019, 31 companies have joined The Climate Group’s EV100 pledge, together committing to switch over 145,000 vehicles from fossil fuels to electric power.
  • Diversifying fuel sources. To go above and beyond solar and wind as practical to meet 100% renewable or clean energy targets means incorporating fuel cell power, biogas, and hydropower both onsite and offsite. This may help to increase energy reliability, take advantage of local geography, and enable distributed generation resources to help companies meet their energy and emissions reduction targets.
Customers and Employees Want Clean Energy

In April 2019, more than 6,000 employees petitioned Amazon to walk its talk on climate change. As shareholders of the company, employees signed a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, asking him to adopt a stringent companywide climate action plan. This comes after reports of Amazon cozying up to the fossil fuel industry, despite its claims to be a climate leader. Following the letter’s submission, Amazon made headlines with the announcement that it would buy 229 MW of future wind capacity to serve its data centers.

Navigant has also announced a commitment to 100% renewable energy and joined the Science Based Targets Initiative in April 2019. With resounding support from employees, the company also launched office green teams, data tracking and carbon footprint quantification mechanisms, and a corporate governance structure to work in tandem with internal real estate, procurement, and marketing departments. While PPA adoption continues to serve as a strong measure of corporate clean energy interest, programs inclusive of all greening opportunities available to companies must be considered to design comprehensive corporate sustainability targets in and beyond 2019.