When Amazon announces it is making a return to the corporate renewables market, as it did this month, it comes as little surprise.
Technology and data firms such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are at the forefront of renewable energy procurement across the globe. Amazon, for instance said it will be buying power from three future wind projects, two in Europe and one in the U.S., with a suggestion more deals are coming soon.
In the U.S., 22 states have more than 50 megawatts of projects operating or in development with corporate offtakers, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The leading states are not only resource-rich in renewables, but usually also have favorable market conditions and pricing for corporate offtakers.
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Cumulative operational and in-development C&I capacity by state. Source: Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables
Texas tops the list, but the states that boast more than 500 megawatts of cumulative and planned C&I development span the entire country, according to WoodMac's recent report about C&I renewable procurement trends. The variation is unsurprising, given the many flavors of state-level energy policy and the difference in cost of power across the U.S. But the trend is clear: More and more companies are procuring renewables.
That can be seen in the growth of average PPA contract size, driven by the big players like Amazon getting more comfortable with deals and the emerging trends of community choice aggregation procuring renewables, innovative green tariffs and multi-party corporate offtakers that let smaller companies take part in utility-scale projects.
The majority of renewable energy is used as a source of electricity.
Developers and utilities are also no longer the only ones in the driver seat. Corporate buyers are increasingly working hand-in-hand with their utilities, and regulators, to find ways to meet the demand. For example, Facebook has a data center in Georgia and the local utility, Walton EMC, allows Facebook to secure the renewable power it needs to help it meet its 100 percent renewable goal while Walton EMC could count the renewable power within its portfolio.
“Corporate lobbying for greater access to renewables and an accompanying shift in energy policy to meet C&I demand will be crucial to the sustained development of the C&I sector going forward,” said Colin Smith, senior solar analyst with WoodMackenzie Power & Renewables.