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Report

Clean Power by the Hour

Assessing the Costs and Emissions Impacts of Hourly Carbon-Free Energy Procurement Strategies

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Corporate procurement of renewable energy has played an important and growing role in decarbonizing global power systems over the past decade. Now, the growing urgency for climate action is motivating leading firms to consider advanced procurement strategies that can accelerate progress toward a carbon-free electricity grid.

In this study, RMI assesses the costs and climate benefits associated with procurement strategies that match buyers’ electricity demand with carbon-free energy supply on an hourly basis across seven global electricity markets. We find that hourly load-matching strategies can help lay the groundwork for a decarbonized grid in the long term. However, such strategies should be carefully tailored to region-specific grid dynamics to also maximize emissions reductions in the near term.

Hourly load matching costs and portfolio composition for a data center in PJM
Exhibit: Hourly load matching costs and portfolio composition for a data center in PJM

Based on our findings, we offer recommendations for renewable energy buyers, policymakers, and project developers that can support both near- and long-term emissions reduction goals. This will accelerate progress toward a carbon-free grid for all customers, not just those who take the first steps.