Corporations Set Renewable Energy Record, Surpass 2 GW in 2015


Today, more than 160 corporate executives are gathering at Bloomberg’s New York City headquarters for a meeting of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center (BRC). The over-capacity, invitation-only event is the latest proof point of corporations’ fast-growing interest in purchasing large amounts of renewable energy.

After signing a record 1.2 GW of utility-scale wind and solar power in 2014, corporations have smashed that record—with two months still to go in the year. Through November 17, 2015, corporations had signed more than 2 GW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for large-scale, off-site renewable energy, according to the BRC’s tracking of publicly announced deals.

The BRC and its members—corporate buyers, advisors, and sponsors—are at the heart of this major market shift that’s increasingly putting corporations in the renewable energy driver’s seat. Across 2014 and 2015 YTD, BRC-affiliated companies were part of three out of every four corporate deals. 

Since Friday, BRC companies have announced multiple major deals totaling an estimated 475 MW, enabling the annual corporate PPA market to surpass 2 GW for the first time. Those transactions include BRC corporate member Equinix announcing 225 MW of new renewable energy deals, including 100 MW from BRC sponsor Invenergy’s Wake Wind Energy Facility in Texas and 125 MW of wind from BRC sponsor NextEra Energy Resources.

"We’re seeing the market move beyond the few pioneering first movers into a growing list of fast followers eager to pursue large renewable energy transactions," says Hervé Touati, manager director at Rocky Mountain Institute and head of the BRC. "The BRC is establishing itself as the go-to member-based marketplace where they all come together, sharing knowledge so that more renewable deals can happen sooner and easier."

Since its previous semiannual meeting in May in San Francisco, the BRC’s membership has more than doubled. BRC companies now represent total annual revenues of $1.3 trillion, global annual electricity consumption of 41.7 TWh (equivalent to ~3.8 million American homes), and for publicly traded companies, a collective market capitalization of $2.14 trillion.

New corporate members include Autodesk, Avery Dennison, Cisco, Digital Realty, EMC Corporation, Equinix, Etsy, FedEx, Microsoft, Starwood Hotels, Steelcase, Workday, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Yahoo!, and others.

"Microsoft takes its commitment to environmental sustainability very seriously, and we are working to grow our renewable energy portfolio," says Brian Janous, Director of Energy Strategy at Microsoft. "We’re very excited to join the BRC, to both share our experiences with others and work with others to develop best practices. Together with the BRC, we can streamline corporate renewable energy procurement and bring more wind and solar online faster."

New sponsors include 3Degrees, Affordable Solar, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Capital Power, Community Energy, Duke Energy Renewables, EDF Renewable Energy, Gaelectric, Iberdrola Renewables, Infinity Wind Power, K&L Gates, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, ReneSola, Renewable Energy Systems Americas, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, SoCore Energy, SolarCity, Sol Systems, Tradewind Energy, and WSP Group.

Recent weeks leading up to the BRC meeting today have brought several other strong signs about this substantial market trend:

"The market is moving fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see additional major developments before the year is out," says Lily Donge, principal of the BRC. "Corporations are speaking loudly: they want renewable energy, and we’re proud of the role the BRC and our members have in making that happen."

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