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Renewable Energy & Cleantech

The Value of an Independent PPA Advisor


Author: Hans Royal helps the largest institutions and corporations transition to renewable energy

Businesses today are more ambitious than ever with their renewable energy commitments. In 2018, corporations procured a staggering 13.5 GW of renewable electricity via power purchase agreements (PPAs) alone. Though the industry, size, electricity load, goals for renewable procurement, experience level and geographic spread of these corporations vary widely, many of them have one thing in common: they engaged an external PPA advisor to help them navigate the process.

While it's absolutely possible (and has been done) for a company to execute a PPA without using an advisor, the majority of corporate energy buyers do solicit help from an external energy market expert.

As the global renewable energy market expands, so too does the energy advisory market; rising up to serve the growing ranks of companies interested in procuring renewables directly. But even with an abundance of options, choosing the right energy advisor for your company can be a daunting task in itself. A smart first place to start is to identify advisors that will assess all renewable projects in the market in an unbiased, agnostic fashion, increasing your company's chance of identifying and signing a deal that will meet your unique financial and environmental aspirations.

An independent renewable energy advisor will draw on their broad market perspective and standing relationships with a wide variety of developers to run an RFP efficiently and effectively. This is not the case with every renewable energy advisor, however, some of whom are owned by or influenced by developers, utilities, or other power providers.  

At Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS), we see our independence as critical to our ability to be an advisor that works for our clients in an unbiased fashion.  A crucial value we bring to our clients is giving them transparency into and a full understanding of the wide menu of renewable options available to them, regardless of supplier or technology.  Although we have long-standing and healthy relationships with most major project developers and environmental attribute suppliers, at the end of the day, we sit on the side of the table with our customers. 

Schneider Electric ESS works across a variety of technologies, with many different developer & supply partners, and with clients from a cross-section of every major industry vertical. We do not develop projects, nor are we affiliated with any particular developer or supplier [with the one caveat that Schneider Electric does sell inverter products to some solar developers, a factor that has never influenced our PPA advisory services].

Why do we feel so strongly that our neutrality is important?

Fundamentally, the renewable energy marketplace is a free one.  It is the pressure exerted by available and emerging products and projects that drive market development, create competitive tension, and result in favorable prices and contract terms for our clients.  If we were only to present our clients with projects and products that we were responsible for developing, that competitive tension would dissipate and negatively impact the value of the solution to our client.

Helping our clients choose the right project or product, in the right market, at the right price and with the right terms is where an independent advisor like Schneider Electric ESS provides considerable value. The nuances of renewable energy execution and risk management can be difficult for buyers to manage on their own. A reputable, transparent, independent advisor can, and should, provide deep, but agnostic, expertise in order to help organizations meet their goals in a credible, reliable way.

How do we do this?

  • We maintain an intimate familiarity with the global energy market and develop strong relationships with suppliers around the world.
  • We run open market sourcing processes across developers and technologies to secure the best possible projects and products at the best possible price.
  • We educate and engage internal stakeholders in establishing trust in and understanding of the project/product selection process.
  • We assist organizations in identifying the project/product that meets their goals while conducting rigorous evaluation to reduce market, development, regulatory, construction, financial, and operational risks.
  • We help our clients understand the quality of a project/product and provide perspective on market conditions in order to negotiate favorable contract terms.
  • We offer expert perspective on contractual terms that have the potential to impact the financial performance and accounting treatment of the project/product selected.
  • We support our clients in communicating and promoting the importance of their purchase and in using their project/product to achieve their environmental, social, and economic goals.

For more than 15 years, Schneider Electric ESS has taken an unaffiliated, unbiased, portfolio approach to helping organizations choose cleaner energy—and we have no intention of stopping now.

We invite you to reach out to our team if you have any additional questions.