Sustainability leaders from Salesforce, Workday, and the Solar Energy Industries Association recently joined LevelTen Energy on a Clubhouse panel hosted by Canary Media to discuss the future of corporate clean energy deals. We talked about how corporate renewable energy procurement has evolved over the past decade, how environmental and social justice considerations are shaping power purchase agreements (PPAs), and challenges that lie ahead in scaling renewable energy. If you missed our panel, here are the top takeaways —
Not all megawatts are created equal. When corporations first began procuring renewable energy, the focus was on the economics of the deal and transactional details. Over time, they learned that not all megawatts are created equal. Two projects of the same size can have different impacts on the local community, environment and habitat. That realization has led to more sophisticated thinking around maximizing positive social and environmental impact while also minimizing negative outcomes, which will hopefully push the industry forward.
Corporate procurement jump-started the clean energy transition, but true scale requires participation from utilities and policy change. Corporate offtakers account for a significant portion of renewable procurement, and thanks to aggregated deals like the one LevelTen facilitated for Bloomberg, Cox Enterprises, Gap Inc., Salesforce and Workday, more types of companies are participating in PPAs. But even the largest corporations cannot compete with the scale that all utilities have. To decarbonize the grid, we need utilities to prioritize transitioning to renewable energy, and renewable developers need to deliver the right types of solutions to them. Policy change is also critical. For example, companies that are pushing for 24/7 clean energy can only get so far without robust legislative action. Corporate renewable energy buyers can help advance legislative action through participation in organizations like SEIA.
Procuring renewable energy in a socially and environmentally responsible way requires more investment and a holistic look at supply chains. Nearly 70% of renewable project developers surveyed by LevelTen said they are improving their environmental and social justice practices because renewable energy buyers demand it. Raising standards around hiring and training local workforces, improving diversity, and reducing environmental impact is good for communities and the planet. By taking a more holistic approach to procurement, looking beyond just the cost per REC, corporations can maximize their impact.