There is a huge, unmet renewable energy demand by businesses. Many Fortune 500 companies are proactive in their approach to renewable energy as it makes sound business sense to do so. Companies who are in support of renewable energy include Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, Sprint and Walmart who demand 8.4 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy each year.
Add in major business sectors in the USA including IT, media, retail and manufacturers like Google and Ikea and it’s clear to see why renewable energy has united companies in dealing with the traditional, centralized model of power supply which does not easily embrace the local, distributed sourcing that is a key attraction of renewable energy.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Companies, together with politicians and some environmental, public health and clean energy organizations are pressing the EPA for renewable energy be strongly considered under their “Clean Power Plan”.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), supported by companies, environmental groups, attorney generals and senators, have proposed the EPA double their target of non-hydro renewable energy sources to twenty-three percent of U.S. electricity sales by 2030. Reaching these levels is affordable and would have the added bonus of reducing U.S. power plant carbon emissions by an additional ten percent.
The difficulty with the EPA’s conservative approach is said to be due to their use of static 2012 technology deployment rates that don’t capture future innovations or cost reductions. Some states currently have more renewable generation than the EPA’s 2030 targets. The EPA have not fully captured future state commitments to renewable under existing laws nor assumed any increase in renewable between 2012 and 2017.
Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to improve corporate performance and cut costs. Most Fortune 500 companies have set a renewable energy goal, a greenhouse gas reduction goal or both. IKEA has rooftop solar on 89 percent of its stores providing a third of the energy requirements. Using renewable energy has helped Google diversify their power supply, provide protection against fuel price variability, and support business innovation and economic growth in the regions in which they operate.
Companies have asked the EPA to encourage greater choice in procurement options including:
1. Extended access to cost competitive options that provide a critical, long-term buffer against the price spikes that arise in conventional energy markets.
2. Access to new projects that reduce emissions beyond usual business use. As companies build a sustainable identity, they want to be able to claim sole ownership of the renewable energy projects they support.
3. Streamlined third-party financing to make it easier for companies to access power purchase agreements and other third-party arrangements.
4. Increased purchasing options within the existing utility and regulatory framework.
The unifying of companies to push for the streamlining of renewable energy procurement, obviously benefits the big players, but will also enable smaller consumers to join the market.