5 Ways to Sustain the Corporate Renewables Market
The year 2015 represented a major turning point for electricity generation in the United States. The country retired 14 GW of fossil-fueled generation. Meanwhile, it brought online 16.4 GW of carbon-free generation, with wind energy leading the mix at 8.5 GW of new installed capacity, according to BNEF's Sustainable Energy in America 2016 Factbook. Natural gas, despite historical low commodity prices, brought online just 6 GW. This is an exciting sign of a changing tide, but the U.S. bulk power fleet today totals ~1,100 GW of capacity, and two-thirds of generation still comes from fossil fuels. Renewables still have much ground left to cover.
The good news is that renewable capacity growth has a new ally, with the potential of mobilizing tens—at times, hundreds—of additional MWs at each step: corporate demand for renewable energy.
RMI’s Business Renewables Center (BRC) has been focusing on renewables growth in large chunks—through corporations’ appetite to contract large amounts of electricity. And its member companies have been doing exactly that, in record numbers. Though a young market, corporate deals for large-scale renewables have been growing fast, from 0.56 GW in 2013, to 1.18 in 2014, to 3.44 last year. Meanwhile, the number of market participants has blossomedfrom 1 to 26. That corporate demand for renewables is now becoming the nation’s leading source of demand for wind power and an increasingly important source of demand for solar, too. More