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- Corporations bought a record 19.5 gigawatts of renewable energy in 2019, according to BloombergNEF. That’s 44% more than in 2018.
- Tech giants like Google and Facebook led the pack, driven in large part by sustainability commitments, but several oil giants also bought clean energy.
- In the shadow of the big corporate names are the clean energy developers who stand to benefit from those deals.
- Business Insider compiled a list of the top 10 energy companies that won contracts to sell clean power to corporations in 2019.
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You don’t have to look far to find a new corporate giant announcing a sustainability commitment. While those pledges are, of course, good press, they also appear to be leading to measurable action.
That’s one takeaway from the research firm BloombergNEF’s (BNEF) new report on corporate buying of renewable energy in 2019.
Last year, companies signed contracts to purchase a record 19.5 gigawatts of renewable energy — which amounts to 10% of all clean energy capacity added globally in 2019. And it was fueled in large part by corporate sustainability commitments, according to BNEF.
For context, a watt is a measure of the amount of energy used in a given moment, and a gigawatt (GW) is a billion watts. That’s a lot of power, equivalent to the energy capacity of a little over 3 million solar panels, 431 utility-scale wind turbines, or 100 million LED bulbs, according to the US Department of Energy.
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BNEF’s report showed that tech giants led the pack in purchasing. Google, alone, signed contracts to buy more than 2.7 GW of clean energy, followed by Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, per BNEF.
Oil and gas giants like Chevron and Occidental Petroleum also inked deals to buy renewable power last year.
Some of the biggest winners are companies on the other sides of those deals — energy firms that sell renewable energy through power purchase agreements, or PPAs.
PPAs are essentially contracts between power providers, such as solar farm developers, and buyers trying to source renewable energy like Google. Those contracts typically lock in the price of energy for a given period of time.
While the price of energy through a PPA varies by project, solar can cost between $20 and $40 per megawatt-hour, a measure of how many watts are used over time, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The national average price of wind, on the other hand, is often under $20 per MWh.
All of this is to say: there’s a lot of money flowing through these deals, and some companies stand to benefit more than others.
Business Insider compiled a list of the top 10 energy companies benefiting from corporate buying in 2019, based on the size of the contracts in megawatts (MW), or thousands of watts, using data from BNEF. Where possible, we list notable companies that purchased the power and the size of those deals in megawatts or megawatt-hours (MWh).
Energy companies are listed from least to most megawattage provided in 2019.
10. Invenergy — 396 MW
Wind: 300 MW
Solar: 96 MW
What it is: Invenergy is a US-based private energy developer. The company says it has contracted more than 3,000 MW of wind and solar power to help companies meet their sustainability commitments.
9. E.On Climate & Renewables — 426 MW
Wind: 426 MW
Solar: 0 MW
What it is: Germany-based E.ON is one of Europe’s largest energy providers and distributors. In Britain, where it operates as a utility, the company supplies all of its 3 million customers with 100% renewable energy.
Notable buyers: Honda (120 MW), QTS Realty Trust
8. Canadian Solar — 446 MW
Wind: 0 MW
Solar: 446 MW
What it is: Canadian Solar, one of the largest public solar companies in the world, manufactures solar panel modules and develops solar arrays. The company says it has delivered over 38 GW of solar modules.
6. ALLETE Clean Energy — 528 MW
Wind: 528 MW
Solar: 0 MW
What it is: Minnesota-based Allete Clean Energy, a subsidiary of the public energy utility ALLETE, buys and develops wind energy projects in the US, with a total capacity of 500 MW.
5. Colbún — 610 MW
Wind: 607 MW
Solar: 3 MW
What it is: Colbún is a Chilean energy utility with power plants and renewable projects in Chile and Peru. It has a total installed capacity of nearly 3,900 MW, the company says.
4. Longroad Energy — 542 MW
Wind: 432 MW
Solar: 218 MW
What it is: Boston-based Longroad Energy develops utility-scale solar and wind projects across North America.
3. Apex Clean Energy — 651 MW
Wind: 571 MW
Solar: 81 MW
What it is: Virginia-based Apex finances and develops utility-scale wind and solar farms in North America. It has nearly 2,900 MW of clean energy in operation.
*Apex Clean Energy developed this project, but it’s owned by Ares Management.
2. 7X Energy — 767 MW
Wind: 0 MW
Solar: 767 MW
What it is: 7X is one of the largest solar energy developers in Texas.
Notable buyers: Undisclosed “Fortune 500” company (250 MW)
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