2018 began with great uncertainty in the renewables space. How would U.S. tariffs on solar panels and steel impact the industry? How would policy rollbacks slow the advancement of new wind and solar gains? How would power market rule changes and corporate tax reform benefit—or hinder—corporate buyers? Would the upcoming expiration of the wind power Production Tax Credit create market instability?
Despite these concerns, corporate renewable sourcing in the U.S.—and globally—has not slowed. If anything, it is accelerating. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) recently announced that world renewable energy capacity has surpassed the 1 terawatt (TW) threshold, and much of this recent demand can be attributed to corporate buyers.
To date, corporations have purchased 7.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 globally, nearly 2 GW more than 2017…and it’s not yet September. BNEF predicts that corporate purchases may reach as high as 10 GW by year’s end.
The diversity of companies pursuing renewables has also grown in the past year. As global giants like Google and Apple reach their 100% renewable goals, fast followers are growing in both size and sector. This year, we’ve seen new entrants to the market, and expansion, in food & beverage, telecom, heavy industrial, manufacturing, retail, and financial services.
But the news isn’t all rosy. Earlier this year, BNEF reported that a sizeable gap exists between the commitments that RE100 members have set and their actual existing procurement volumes. That means that, despite great gains this year, corporate purchasers still have a long way to go to hit their targets.
In addition to their own goals, companies have the power and responsibility to influence a global shift to clean energy – and 2018 is a key year to do so. As Constant Alarcon of RE100 explained to us at our client event in Budapest, UN discussions around implementation of the Paris Agreement make 2018 a very important year for corporates to be vocal about their commitments and show their ambition to act on climate change.
We can all view this as an opportunity. Particularly as prices for renewables continue to fall, worldwide, the ability to use clean energy to meet both economic and environmental goals gets easier and easier.
Interested in using renewables for your business, but not sure how to begin? Our NEO Network Accelerator Access gives qualified companies everything you need to get started—at no cost.