Houston — US commercial and industrial companies bought 4.447 GW of US wind capacity in 2019, setting a new annual record and bringing total corporate wind capacity purchases to 16.857 GW, the American Wind Energy Association said in two reports released June 11.
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"With U.S. wind power, companies are able to meet sustainability goals, while simultaneously securing fixed-price, low-cost energy that is protected from fuel price fluctuations," AWEA said.
The reports, "Wind Powers American Business" and "Community Benefits of Corporate Wind Energy Purchases," noted that numerous corporate investments in wind "spur investment in America's rural communities."
AWEA said that in 2019, US wind projects paid approximately $706 million in land lease payments to farmers, ranchers and others who host turbines on their land. The report argued that land lease payments "protect farms from fluctuations in commodity prices or poor crop yields during drought years."
Also in 2019, according to AWEA, wind projects "paid an estimated $921 million in state and local taxes."
The reports reveal, AWEA said, that corporate customers "across a variety of industry sectors now purchase 10% of all operating wind capacity in the country."
It said that more than 140 companies have purchased US wind energy and that Google is the top corporate wind energy customer in the US, with 2.397 GW contracted.
Facebook is the second largest purchaser, with 1.459 GW, followed by Walmart, AT&T, and Microsoft.
In its reports, AWEA cited a recent study by Wood MacKenzie that estimated that "Fortune 1000 companies will drive 85 GW of renewable energy demand through 2030."
For its corporate wind energy purchases report, AWEA looked at four case studies that included Cargill, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and Google.
Cargill, the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based global agricultural product company, said recently that it has set targets to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse emissions – "those caused directly and indirectly by our operations" – by 10% by 2025, measured against a 2017 baseline.
That means taking steps, it said, "like pursuing emissions-reducing technology and investing in renewable energy to power our operations or offset our emissions."
The AWEA report notes that Cargill signed a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, or VPPA, with Geronimo Energy in 2018 to purchase 50 MW of the 200 MW Crocker Wind Farm in Clark County, South Dakota, which became commercial in December 2019.
"Cargill's agreement represents approximately 10% of the GHG reduction the company will need in order to hit its 2025 goal."
Anheuser-Busch signed in 2017 a PPA with Enel Green Power to purchase 152.5 MW from the Budweiser Wind Farm at Thunder Ranch, a 298-MW project in Oklahoma.
"This was Anheuser-Busch's first purchase of renewable energy from a utility-scale project and it will supply up to 50% of the company's annual renewable purchased electricity," AWEA noted.
The St. Louis-based beer company has said its goal is to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and to have a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions across its value chain.
In 2019 AT&T signed two VPPAs — one for wind and one for solar energy — that increased the company's total investment to more than 1.5 GW of clean energy capacity by building on upon three PPAs signed in 2018.
While Walmart purchased the most wind energy of any company in 2019, signing contracts for three wind projects totaling 541 MW, AT&T was the second largest corporate buyer of wind for the year, contracting 460 MW from two projects.
AWEA quoted said Joe Taylor, vice president of Global Infrastructure Optimization and Implementation for AT&T, as saying, "The shift to renewable energy sources is a key part of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and meeting global climate goals."
Google is "by far" the largest wind energy customer in the country, according to AWEA, with a total of 2.397 GW contracted through the end of 2019.
"The technology giant has strived to match 100% of its global energy usage with renewable energy," AWEA said.
According to the "Wind Powers American Business Report," corporate purchasers bought 10% of all operating wind capacity as of the end of 2019, which totaled 10.281 GW.
"Google also holds the top spot for purchases from wind projects that are currently operating, buying a combined 1.999 GW from wind projects that came online between 2010 and 2019," the report said.