Some of the largest companies in the United States have teamed up on a clean energy buying initiative aimed at motivating more businesses to switch to renewable energy as part of efforts to drive down emissions.
The group, which involves Google, General Motors, and Walmart, among others, calls itself the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and also includes renewable energy providers with the goal of bringing together buyers and sellers of this energy for a lower-emission future.
The reason for the existence of REBA is simple: as the initiative says on its website, the commercial and industrial sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions so it would make sense for it to do something about reducing this contribution, and fast. The fastest way, according to REBA, is to buy more renewable power.
The group, which to date has more than 200 large corporate entities buying solar and wind power as well as 150 renewable power developers and service providers, aims to make this energy-buying process easier for all involved. The ultimate goal is to expand renewable energy buying to tens of thousands of companies of all sizes and “catalyze 60 GW of new renewable energy by 2025.”
“This is really about bringing as many players to the market as possible and giving everyone access to clean energy,” CNBC quoted Google’s head of energy market strategy, Michael Terrell.
The renewable energy-buying drive will also stimulate more solar and wind capacity additions, of course: demand for more renewable energy will spur more renewable generation capacity. Just last year, the size of renewable electricity purchase deals was equal to generation capacity of 16 GW. By 2025, as REBA plans, it should grow to 60 GW. For context, the current installed wind power capacity in the United States is 94 GW, and solar capacity totaled 51 GW at the end of 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Renewable energy buying by Apple, Disney, GM and their likes has been instrumental in driving the growth of renewable energy installations over the last decade. According to EIA data, this growth has been impressive: wind power capacity in 2008 was just 25 GW and solar was even worse off, at 1 GW of installed capacity. A consistent decline in costs and political and regulatory support have helped this growth as well.
However, there are still political and regulatory obstacles in the way of new entrants into the renewable energy buying market, REBA founders say. One of its goals, therefore, would be to remove these barriers by sharing its members’ expertise in the field, built over the years since early adoption. Sealing a renewable energy deal, according to Google’s Terrell, should be as easy as clicking a button. It is not, however, and the alliance will work to change this.
It’s likely we will see a lot more renewable power initiatives in the wake of an International Energy Agency report that found carbon emissions reached 33.1 gigatons last year, breaking their previous record. The record-breaking figure was a result of a sharp increase in energy demand globally, the IEA’s Global Energy & CO2 Status Report said. Since energy demand will only continue to grow with a growing world population, renewable energy adoption would indeed have to accelerate and expand substantially if it is to make a lasting difference.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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