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RMI and Microsoft Show How Corporations Can Accelerate a Cleaner Grid

RMI’s latest white paper in partnership with Microsoft assesses the costs and benefits of hourly clean energy procurement strategies that can help lay the groundwork for a decarbonized grid.

Boulder, CO – July 13, 2021

Corporate renewable energy procurement has played a key role in decarbonizing global power. And the urgency for climate action has prompted leading firms to consider strategies like hourly load-matching to help accelerate the move to a carbon-free electricity grid.

In the Clean Power by the Hour 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.

The global non-profit’s research finds that hourly load-matching strategies can help lay the groundwork for a decarbonized grid in the long term. However, these strategies should be carefully tailored to region-specific grid dynamics to also maximize emissions reductions over the next decade.

“To take meaningful steps towards grid decarbonization, it’s imperative that these procurement strategies align with science-based targets that reflect the need to decarbonize 50% by 2030,” said Mark Dyson, Principal at RMI.

The report’s three primary findings are:

  1. As the level of hourly matching is increased, costs for hourly load matching rise, in three distinct stages. These typically rise to well above costs for meeting annual procurement targets.
  2. Near-term emissions reductions from hourly load matching depend on the regional grid mix and how storage resources are operated.
  3. Hourly procurement strategies can create demand for emerging technologies needed to fully decarbonize the grid.

The study offers the following three recommendations for buyers, policymakers, and other industry participants to maximize the impact of hourly clean energy procurement strategies:

  1. Match hourly procurement strategies to grid dynamics.
  2. Expand wholesale market access to scale the benefits of hourly procurement strategies.
  3. Hourly procurement strategies can create demand for emerging technologies needed to fully decarbonize the grid.
  4. Balance hourly procurement goals against the science-based imperative to reduce emissions as fast as possible in the near term.

RMI concludes that with more advanced procurement strategies, corporate procurement can play a key role in decarbonization of the grid as a whole. The potential for coordinated action around this strategy presents a rare opportunity to speed progress to a clean grid that delivers carbon-free electricity to all, not just those who take the first steps.

“There is a tremendous amount that leading energy buyers can do to drive both near-term and long-term grid decarbonization, especially if they tailor their actions to needs of the grid as a whole,” said Charles Teplin, Principal at RMI.

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Notes to Editors
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About RMI
RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.