Corporate buyers made up more than half of wind - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Procurement, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  April 8, 2016

Google Energy led growing number of nonutility wind buyers in 2015

More than half of the wind power capacity contracted through power purchase agreements in 2015 was signed by nonutility buyers, including major corporations and universities and municipalities, according to new data from the American Wind Energy Association.  

The group, lead by Google Energy, Amazon Web Services and Equinix, accounted for 52%, or 2,074 MW, of all such capacity in 2015, representing more than twice the amount in 2014 and reaching a record high. Other companies who contracted for large amounts of wind power in 2015 included Dow Chemical and Wal-Mart, though some big buyers from 2014 - IKEA and Microsoft, most noticeably - appear to have dropped out of the picture. 

Traditional manufacturers such as General Motors and Procter and Gamble have also entered the market, according to AWEA. Procter and Gamble reportedly purchased enough wind energy to power all of its home care product manufacturing, meaning products such as Tide and Mr. Clean are now created using wind power.

AWEA plans to release its full, 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report on April 12.

With the price of wind energy two-thirds cheaper than it was in 2009, wind power has become one of the lowest cost sources of energy in certain regions of the country, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That, AWEA said in an April 7 news release, has increasing appeal to organizations with goals both to lower emissions, and to secure low-cost, fixed-price energy that protects them from fuel price fluctuations.

Increased attention on corporate sustainability, and increasing pressure from shareholders for companies to be more transparent regarding their carbon footprint, is expected to continue to drive renewable energy sourcing by major corporations, meaning there is lots of room for growth.

For example, AWEA noted in a blog post that to-date, 58 global companies including IKEA, Nike and Starbucks that have signed a pledge to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy. Hewlett-Packard was the latest signee, the organization noted, offering proof that that list is still growing.

"Many of those organizations still have a long way to go to reach that goal, meaning they’ll be looking to purchase a lot of wind power in the coming years," AWEA said. 

Chart source: The American Wind Energy Association 

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