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Exploring Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement Practices: Trends & Insights

By: Yatheesh Chandrasekaran

The increasing global adoption of renewable energy is transforming the way mid-to-large size companies procure energy. Corporate renewable energy procurement is both a strategic move to mitigate the rising price of energy and a pivotal step towards achieving sustainability goals and meeting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.

Trends in Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement

Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)

Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are a prevalent procurement method where a corporation agrees to purchase renewable electricity from a specific energy project at a predetermined price. This long-term agreement offers economic savings and price stability, shielding companies from energy price volatility. PPAs are commonly used by major companies like Google and Amazon to secure large amounts of renewable energy and meet their decarbonization objectives.

  • Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are certificates representing the environmental benefits of generating one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. Corporations can purchase RECs to offset their emissions and claim the use of renewable energy without directly consuming it. The REC market provides flexibility and transparency, allowing companies to support renewable energy projects even if they cannot install renewable energy resources on-site.

  • On-Site Clean Energy Generation

On-site clean energy generation involves installing renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, directly at the company’s facilities. This approach provides direct renewable energy consumption, reducing reliance on the electric grid and enhancing energy resilience. Companies like Walmart and Target have invested heavily in on-site solar power, significantly reducing their ecological footprint and operating costs.

Insights from Industry Leaders

  • Economic and Environmental Benefits

The economic and environmental benefits of corporate renewable energy procurement are substantial. By shifting to renewable energy, companies can achieve significant cost savings, reduce greenhouse gases, and mitigate the impact of climate change. For instance, the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) have documented numerous cases where businesses have realized both financial gains and environmental improvements through renewable energy investments.

  • Legal and Regulatory Landscape

Navigating the legal and regulatory landscape is crucial for successful renewable energy procurement. Organizations must be aware of state-specific regulations and federal government policies that impact renewable energy projects. Individual cities may also have unique requirements and incentives. A trusted partner, such as Onyx Renewables, can provide crystal-clear operating lease terms and guidelines, ensuring compliance and maximizing benefits.

  • Partnering with Renewable Energy Developers

Choosing the right partner is essential for achieving quality performance and meeting sustainability goals. Renewable energy developers, such as those in the solar and wind industries, offer expertise in deal structures, system monitoring, operations, and maintenance. Partnerships with these developers enable corporations to leverage advanced technologies and best practices, ensuring successful project implementation and ongoing support.

Case Study: A Leading Renewable Energy Developer

A leading renewable energy developer has successfully partnered with numerous corporations to help them achieve their energy and sustainability goals. By providing customized solutions and transparent procurement processes, this developer assists businesses in reducing their ecological footprint and meeting their decarbonization objectives.

Their approach includes a variety of procurement types to cater to different organizational needs. One significant offering is operating leases, which provide lessees with the flexibility to use renewable energy assets without the burden of upfront costs. This financial arrangement allows companies to realize economic savings and meet sustainability targets while spreading the investment over a more manageable period.

The developer also emphasizes system monitoring, operations, and maintenance to ensure quality performance. Regular maintenance and repairs are integral to maintaining the optimal performance of renewable energy systems, which in turn maximizes the net operating income (NOI) from these assets. By ensuring that the renewable energy systems operate efficiently, the developer helps businesses achieve consistent energy production and economic benefits.

Additionally, this developer offers comprehensive support throughout the legal and regulatory landscape. They guide corporations through state-specific regulations, federal government policies, and individual city requirements, ensuring compliance and maximizing incentives. This expertise helps businesses navigate the complex legal framework associated with renewable energy projects.

Key Considerations for Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement

  • Assessing Organizational Needs

Understanding organizational needs is the first step in choosing the right procurement method. Factors such as energy consumption patterns, facility locations, and long-term sustainability goals should be considered. For instance, companies with high energy demands may benefit more from PPAs or on-site clean energy generation, while those with smaller needs might find RECs more suitable.

  • Evaluating Cost and Savings

Evaluating the Legalized Cost of Energy (LCoE) and potential cost savings is crucial. Businesses must compare the LCoE of renewable energy projects against their current energy costs to determine economic viability. Additionally, the potential for economic savings through reduced operating costs and energy price stability should be factored into the decision-making process.

  • Ensuring Quality and Performance

Ensuring the quality and performance of renewable energy systems is vital for long-term success. Corporations should seek partners with proven track records in system monitoring, operations, and maintenance. Regular maintenance and repairs are necessary to maintain optimal performance and maximize net operating income (NOI) from renewable energy assets.

  • Navigating the REC Market

The REC market offers a flexible option for companies looking to support renewable energy without direct consumption. However, it is essential to understand the nuances of REC procurement, including certification, transparency, and the impact on sustainability goals. Partnering with experienced consultants or platforms like ‘EnergySage’ can provide valuable insights and guidance.

  • Addressing Upfront Costs

Upfront costs can be a barrier to renewable energy procurement. Financing options, such as operating leases, can mitigate this challenge by spreading costs over time. Lessees benefit from economic savings and the ability to achieve sustainability goals without significant initial investments. Clear terms and guidelines are crucial for understanding the financial implications and benefits of such arrangements.

Outlook

The future of corporate renewable energy procurement is promising, driven by the global adoption of renewable energy and the increasing emphasis on sustainability. As more corporations commit to decarbonization and ESG standards, innovative procurement methods and partnerships will continue to evolve. The collaboration between businesses, renewable energy developers, and regulatory bodies will play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape.

Corporate renewable energy procurement is a dynamic and evolving field that offers substantial economic and environmental benefits. By leveraging various procurement methods, such as PPAs, RECs, and on-site clean energy generation, companies can achieve significant cost savings, reduce emissions, and enhance energy resilience. Navigating the legal and regulatory landscape, choosing the right partners, and ensuring quality performance are crucial for success. As the world moves towards a more sustainable future, corporate renewable energy procurement will remain a key strategy for businesses to meet their sustainability goals and contribute to global decarbonization efforts.

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Frequently asked questions

Companies buy renewable energy through several methods, including Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), and on-site clean energy generation. PPAs involve long-term contracts to purchase electricity directly from renewable energy projects at a fixed price, providing economic savings and price stability. RECs allow companies to offset their emissions by purchasing certificates that represent the environmental benefits of renewable energy production. On-site clean energy generation, such as installing solar panels at company facilities, enables direct consumption of renewable energy, reducing reliance on the electric grid and enhancing energy resilience.

Google, Ford, Meta, McDonalds, Amazon and Microsoft are among the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy. These corporations have made significant investments in renewable energy projects through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and have some have even committed to transitioning to entirely carbon-free energy. Such large-scale investments in clean energy projects are critical in driving the global transition towards more sustainable energy sources.

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