Large companies’ agreements on renewable energy, announced in the third quarter of 2021, reached 2.4 gigawatts of capacity, tracking higher than Q3 2020 (at 1.8 GW) and well below the third quarter of 2019 (as clocked). 4.1 GW).
A Note on the Deal Tracker Method: I do my best to track quarterly press releases, news alerts, and stories to find the largest procurement contracts companies publish. Since the beginning of the tracker, I am happy to see several small offers from all kinds of companies reported in all sorts of ways that are not in line with the chart we put together each quarter. As trades become more common and unique to companies, the less extensive these trackers become. And that’s a good thing: it shows how the market has matured over the years and that the largest companies do not have a monopoly on the purchase of renewable energy.
Still, the quarter’s major deals are a good bell for the market direction and how large companies develop purchasing strategies. Here are the three notable trends from the last quarter.
Businesses bring clean energy to communities
Two quarterly agreements from veterans with renewable energy contracts – Walmart and Microsoft – are designed to bring clean energy to rural and minority communities.
Microsoft signed a 250-megawatt solar deal with Volt Energy, which the technology giant says is its first acquisition of a utility with a minority-owned company. The companies say they will invest part of the proceeds of the project in societal impact initiatives aimed at bringing more clean energy to inferiors and rural areas affected by environmental racism.
The deal comes a year after Microsoft released a status report on its path to becoming carbon-negative, identifying climate change and environmental justice as a lens of its energy-tourism journey. At the time, the tech giant announced a new 500 MW deal with Sol Systems that included investments in communities disproportionately affected by climate change.
Recent agreements reflect Microsoft and Walmart’s continued efforts to address more social and societal benefits in their energy strategies and hopefully pave the way for other companies to do the same.
On August 3, Walmart announced that it would be anchor bearings to support 129 MW of solar cell projects in partnership with Nexamp, which it calls the largest deal of its kind. The retail giant plans to subscribe to 50 MW to support its stores and distribution centers in the state of New York. The energy balance goes to residents in the local area with the aim of encouraging the development of local renewable energy.
The Nexamp deal is not Walmart’s first attack on the community sun. In 2019, the retail giant in Georgia supported legislation to extend the maximum length of renewable energy contracts for rural utilities and open the door to more Community contracts for solar energy. Walmart also announced an agreement to sign 36 community solar gardens in Minnesota in 2019 as part of its renewable energy strategy.
The recent agreements reflect Microsoft and Walmart’s continued efforts to take into account more social and societal benefits in their energy strategies and hopefully pave the way for other companies to do the same.
A wind project to make green hydrogen
This quarter, Plug Power entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) for 345 MW of wind in Texas, which it plans to use to generate up to 30 tons of liquid hydrogen per day. Developer Apex believes this is the first and largest wind-powered hydrogen plant in the United States
There has been a lot of buzz about green hydrogen, the process of dividing water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis powered by renewable energy. Green hydrogen is a truly clean fuel that has the potential to unlock some of the toughest challenges of decarbonisation, including decarbonisation of industrial processes and the provision of seasonal energy storage.
This Plug Power agreement marks the first procurement contract registered in the Clean Energy Deal Tracker that uses a PPA specifically for the production of green hydrogen. The company says it will then supply fuel cells and refueling infrastructure to companies like Walmart and Amazon that use hydrogen-powered forklifts in their distribution centers.
If successful, this agreement could help spur the burgeoning green hydrogen market. If large customers like Plug Power can finance clean energy projects for hydrogen production and find off-takers for its production, more energy companies can follow suit.
McDonald’s, eBay is bringing renewable energy to Louisiana
This quarter, McDonald’s and eBay entered into an agreement to procure 345 MW of solar in Louisiana from what is planned to be the state’s largest solar project.
The agreement is remarkable as it brings solar energy to a state that has relatively little historical development of renewable energy. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects the state to install only 934 MW of solar over the next five years, putting it in the bottom third of states with solar capacity. Once completed, the project will represent a nearly 200 percent increase in the state’s total installed capacity.
The economic benefits of the project could help kick-start the Louisiana renewable energy sector. The new solar project, expected to be completed in 2023, is expected to be a boon for the local economy, creating about 400 jobs and generating a $ 30 million boost to the Pointe Coupee Parish, where the project will be located, according to the companies.
Corporate procurement has long been referred to as a catalyst for bringing more renewable energy to more places, and this is certainly true in Louisiana. Several major retailers have sunbathed in the state, including Abita Brewing, Whole Foods and Walmart, according to SEIA.