February was a big month for renewable energy. Several exciting new reports were released that demonstrate that renewable energy is increasingly in demand from large businesses and other large energy buyers, and is a significant source of job growth:
- 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance
- U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2016 Market Report from the American Wind Energy Foundation (AWEA)
- National Solar Jobs Census 2016 from The Solar Foundation
These new reports highlight trends related to the falling cost of renewables and increased corporate procurement:
- Renewable energy is increasingly affordable.
- Costs for wind and solar have fallen across the board. The cost of constructing a utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) project has fallen from $2.65 million per megawatt (m/MW) in 2011 to only $1.14 m/MW in 2016. The cost for wind turbines has also declined, from $1.34m/MW to $1.12m/MW over the same five-year timeframe. (BCSE)
- The economics of renewables continue to improve, with levelized costs for wind power roughly 66% lower today than in 2010. (AWEA)
- As a result, demand for renewable energy from large buyers has increased.
- Low prices are not the only draw: “Competitive pricing, combined with an ability to lock in contract prices for 20 years or longer, has stimulated demand for wind energy for both electric utilities and corporate buyers like GM, Wal-Mart, Google and other major U.S. brands.” (AWEA)
- Certain regions of the country are particularly affordable: “The falling cost of clean energy has allowed utilities and corporate buyers to sign long-term power purchase deals at under $40 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for solar power in Nevada and California. For wind, offtake prices continued to fall, with some projects fetching below $20/MWh in Texas and Oklahoma.” (BCSE)
- Momentum for corporate purchases is expected to continue: Within the US alone, corporations signed 2.5 gigawatts (GW) worth of long-term power contracts with wind and solar projects in 2016. (BCSE)
- 88 companies have now signed the “RE100”, a goal of sourcing 100% of their consumption from renewable energy. Notable signees include Apple, BMW, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Kingspan, and P&G. Google also announced in 2016 that it would already achieve this milestone globally by 2017. (RE100)
- Renewable is creating jobs.
- The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 found that solar employment increased by over 51,000 workers, a 25 percent increase over 2015. Overall, the National Solar Jobs Census found there were 260,077 solar workers in 2016, which is double the amount of coal jobs. (TSF)
- AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan pointed out the benefits of wind manufacturing jobs to communities across the US: “Growing this made-in-the-USA clean energy resource helps rural communities pay for new roads, bridges, and schools, while bringing back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt.”
Additionally, several large customers made exciting announcements about renewable energy in February:
UPS announced that their solar capacity will increase nearly five-fold as part of a long-term renewable energy commitment in UPS facilities. The company will invest around $18 million in new onsite solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Home Depot announced its first major investment in a wind-powered renewable energy project. The retail giant will power 100 stores with wind energy from Los Mirasoles Wind Farm in McAllen, Texas.
General Motors hosted the American Wind Energy Association at their Arlington, Texas assembly plant to celebrate the release of AWEA’s fourth quarter report and the fact that wind has become the most used renewable energy over hydropower dams. At the event, GM announced that they saved $5 million by using renewable energy in 2016 alone.
U.S. Navy announced that they are developing a 44 MW solar and storage facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Renewable energy isn’t only supported by corporate America, it also enjoys support from governors across the United States. In a bipartisan letter to President Trump, the Governor’s Wind and Solar Energy Coalition highlighted the wide impact the clean energy industry has across the nation, employing hundreds of thousands of Americans and transforming low-income and rural communities.
Want to know more? Keep up with renewable energy news on Twitter!
Nearly every day, a big company announces large new purchases of wind and solar energy. In order to highlight and amplify this customer-led revolution, DGA launched a twitter account, @CustomerREVO, detailing why companies are increasingly coming to demand clean energy. This new social media campaign highlights quotes, press releases, and news items from companies and other institutional buyers that are purchasing clean, renewable energy to power their energy needs. Follow us at @CustomerREVO!