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Corporations buy record amounts of wind, solar capacity in 2018

Corporate renewable energy procurements peaked in 2018 as the amount of new wind and solar capacity purchased by companies tracked by the Rocky Mountain Institute reached a record high.

As of Dec. 14, publicly announced contracted capacity from corporate power purchase agreements, green power purchases, green tariffs and outright project ownership in the United States reached 6.43 GW for the year, according to the Business Renewables Center, a membership program at RMI. Center members collectively have been involved in 94% of corporate renewables deals since 2015, according to the Institute.

"These companies aren't going to wait for public policy on climate issues to catch up," Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst said in a Dec. 18 press release. "They are taking the initiative to accelerate toward a prosperous, low carbon economy,"

The market for corporate clean-energy off-site deals has doubled in terms of volume and the number of new entrants since its previous high point in 2015, RMI said. These figures exclude rooftop solar and other on-site renewable generation and deals with already-operating plants.

Facebook Inc., AT&T Inc., Walmart Inc., ExxonMobil and Microsoft Corp. lead the corporate clean energy list with the five highest deal volumes. Facebook purchased the most capacity, with 22 deals totaling 1,849.5 MW, while also breaking all buyer cumulative annual procurement records since 2013. AT&T completed four deals totaling 820 MW in 2018, its first year of market participation.

The Business Renewables Center's deal tracker has recorded more than 15 GW of cumulative deals since 2013.

Nearly two-thirds of Fortune 100 and nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set ambitious renewable energy or related sustainability targets, according to the center, which boasts more than 200 members including major corporations, renewable energy project developers and universities.

"Large scale buyers of clean and renewable energy continue to accelerate their power to drive the zero-carbon future they want," said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, which works with more than 100 large buyers of renewable power. "At this pace, we anticipate a fourfold increase in corporate renewables procurement by 2025."