New York — Tech giant Amazon procured 3.163 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2020, leading all large buyers who collectively procured 10.6 GW of contracted capacity despite coronavirus pandemic-related challenges, and this highlights corporate commitment to addressing climate change, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance said Feb. 10.
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"It is remarkable that the business community announced nearly 100 new deals while managing the impacts of a global pandemic," Miranda Ballentine, REBA's CEO, said in an emailed statement.
"These leaders stepped up to prioritize renewables as a key component of broader organizational energy and climate strategies, and more importantly, recognize the role of the energy industry as the country looks to navigate economic recovery," Ballentine said.
REBA companies represent more than $5.8 trillion in revenue and American businesses have signed nearly 30 GW of large-scale renewable energy contracts since 2014, according to the group.
Amazon, Facebook and Google are among the 20 largest US companies by market capitalization, according to data complied by The Online Investor on Jan. 28.
Amazon made on June 23, 2020, a "climate pledge" to commit itself to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, "a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement."
Facebook said in September of that year that it is committed to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain in 2030.
Google parent company Alphabet said in Sept. 2020 that since 2017 it has been matching all its annual electricity consumption with 100% renewable energy. By 2030 it is aiming to run its business on carbon-free energy everywhere, at all times.
The diverse REBA company list – half of which represents first-time renewable energy buyers accounting for 25% of total announced volume – has navigated market barriers with creative contracting structures and collaboration with key stakeholders, including utilities, energy transaction parties, local communities, and industry leaders, according to the statement.
There is significant potential to grow the corporate renewable energy procurement market by improving access to renewable electricity through key federal policy priorities, REBA said.
Specifically, addressing capacity market construct issues will be central to improving existing markets and making them work for corporate customers, while expanding US wholesale power markets is an area where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can be helpful, Bryn Baker, REBA's director of policy innovation, said in a recent interview.
Corporate decarbonization push
"We're making big investments in wind and solar energy because it can help to quickly decarbonize our business operations," Kara Hurst, Amazon's vice president of sustainability, said in the statement.
"Amazon is on a path to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025 — five years ahead of our original target of 2030," Hurst said.
The country's investor-owned utilities are also committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, with trade group Edison Electric Institute saying on its website that its member companies "are leading a clean energy transformation."
Collectively, EEI's member companies are on a path to reduce carbon emissions at least 80% by 2050, compared with 2005 levels, the website says.
The utilities are also helping the transportation and industrial sectors transition to clean, efficient electric energy, according to EEI.
REBA also noted the importance of including the industrial sector in national decarbonization efforts.
While the information technology sector continued to represent the highest announced renewable energy procurement by volume, industrials and materials was the top sector for new buyers, "which indicates the importance of decarbonization of industrial supply chains to meet zero-carbon goals," the statement said.