Robust demand for renewable energy from private enterprises and public institutions around the world continues to climb despite a severe pullback in corporate America's clean energy appetite, triggered partially by the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to a BloombergNEF report.
With roughly 8,900 MW of new power purchase agreements globally through July, companies are ahead of the pace of last year's record dealmaking, when they contracted for a record 19,700 MW over the full year, the research and consulting firm said in the Aug. 11 report.
But that pace may slow.
"Though activity is currently pacing ahead of 2019, a big second half will be required in order for the market to hit record volumes by year-end, with COVID-19 the biggest adversary that could stall growth," BloombergNEF said.
So far this year, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific have picked up the slack as U.S. purchases slowed, especially in the "historically scorching hot" Texas market, which recorded just 940 MW of deals through July compared with 5,500 MW in 2019, the research firm said. As a whole, the U.S. corporations signed on for approximately 4,300 MW of renewable energy through July.
The backbone of the U.S. corporate renewable energy market, which was still the world's largest through July, remains the technology sector. With their power-hungry data centers, U.S. tech companies have signed a total of over 16,600 MW of renewables contracts to date, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.
Among the 2020 international highlights is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.'s 20-year contract to purchase all the power from a 920-MW wind farm that Danish wind-energy supplier Ørsted A/S is building off the shores of Taiwan. Facebook Inc. this year has signed three power purchase agreements with U.S. wind energy developer Apex Clean Energy Inc.
Overall, BloombergNEF said it expects renewable energy demand from corporations to remain strong, noting that an additional 21 companies in 2020 have committed to cover 100% of their electric use with renewables. The more than than 240 companies worldwide that have made such commitments to date have a combined electricity demand of 247 TWh per year.
"This bodes well for the long-term health of the corporate procurement sector," the report concluded.