Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind - January 27, 2021
Despite 2020 challenges, corporate clean energy buying grew 18%
BNEF announced on Jan. 26 that its research shows that corporations purchased a record 23.7 GW of clean energy in 2020, up from 20.1 GW in 2019 and 13.6GW in 2018. The increase came despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a global recession and uncertain federal U.S. energy policy.
More than 130 companies signed clean energy contracts in sectors ranging from oil & gas to big tech. Stakeholder interest in corporate sustainability and expanding access to clean energy globally is surging.
“Corporations faced a wave of adversity in 2020 – internal corporate functions were disrupted on the outset of the pandemic, and many companies saw revenues plummet as global economies buckled,” Kyle Harrison, BNEF senior associate and the lead author of the report, said in a statement. “Question marks before – and after – the U.S. election further complicated long-term decision-making for companies. To not only maintain but grow the clean energy procurement market under these conditions is a testament to how high sustainability is on many corporations’ agendas.”
Amazon was the leading buyer of clean energy in 2020, announcing 35 separate clean energy PPAs in 2020, totaling 5.1 GW. The company has now purchased more than 7.5 GW of clean energy, vaulting ahead of Google (6.6 GW) and Facebook (5.9 GW) as the world’s largest clean energy buyer.
The U.S. was once again the largest market but was less dominant than previously. Companies announced 11.9 GW of U.S corporate PPAs in 2020, down from 14.1 GW in 2019 – the first year-on-year drop since 2016. The first half, coinciding with the start of the pandemic, was particularly subdued, with companies announcing just 4.3 GW.
Some 65 new companies joined the RE100 in 2020, pledging to offset 100% of their electricity consumption with clean energy. BNEF forecasts that the 285 RE100 members will collectively need to purchase an additional 269 TWh of clean electricity in 2030 to meet their RE100 goals. Should this shortfall be met exclusively with offsite PPAs, it would catalyze an estimated 93 GW of new, incremental solar and wind build.
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