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Corporate Renewable Energy Buys Could Set All-Time Record in 2019

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Corporate renewable energy purchases are on track to set another all-time record in 2019, with the United States still driving a strong growth trend and China moving toward a more prominent role.

“So far in 2019, companies have signed deals for 8.6 gigawatts of clean energy globally,” Greentech Media reports, citing new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “That outpaces last year when, at this time, companies had signed agreements for 7.2 gigawatts of wind and solar. Corporations purchased over 13 gigawatts in total last year.”

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United States buyers bought up the majority of the volume last year, and 70% so far this year. “Texas accounts for 40% of U.S. activity this year, thanks to its rich wind and solar resources and deregulated electricity market,” Greentech states. “While wind has dominated the corporate renewables market in years past, solar is beginning to catch up.”

Greentech’s coverage explains some of the tensions affecting power purchase deals in the U.S., but notes that the investment scene is still more flexible there than elsewhere. “A lot of the markets in Asia, like China and Japan, are so rigid when it comes to options for buying clean energy from a corporate standpoint,” said Bloomberg NEF analyst Kyle Harrison. “It’s very limiting.” While Japan has 20 companies on the RE100 list, he said many of them are postponing their commitments.

“Companies are acknowledging that right now in the short term, there’s no easy way for them to buy clean energy in their domestic market,” he said. “They’re going to take a wait-and-see approach.”

But Greentech says the scene may be shifting in China, where the government is introducing a renewable portfolio standard and piloting a 1.5-gigawatt “prosumer” program to encourage onsite renewables in 26 cities, with participating companies permitted to export their surplus production to the grid.

“It still remains to be seen how much of a true game-changer it will be,” Harrison said. But the new programs “could significantly grow activity in China,” Greentech states. “They should also push policy-makers to widen buying opportunities so companies can meet the targets.”