Strong growth in corporate renewable energy purchasing last year highlights how high sustainability now is on the business agenda, according to a new report.
Latest figures from BloombergNEF (BNEF) showed a record 23.7GW of clean energy was purchased by corporates in 2020, up 18% from 20.1GW in 2019, and from 13.6GW in 2018.
Amazon was the leading buyer, with 35 PPAs signed in 2020, including a deal for the 129MW Kennoxhead wind farm in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The online retailer has now purchased over 7.5GW of clean energy to date, seeing it overtake Google (6.6GW) and Facebook (5.9GW) as the world’s largest clean energy buyer.
The US remained the largest market for deals although the number there fell for the first time since 2016. However, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, PPAs tripled to a record 7.2GW.
BNEF said the flow of new companies making clean energy commitments is an indicator of how much more the market can grow. It pointed out that some 65 new companies signed up to the RE100 campaign in 2020, pledging to offset 100% of their electricity consumption with clean energy. BNEF forecasts that the 285 RE100 members will collectively need to purchase an additional 269TWh of clean electricity in 2030 to meet their goals which could catalyse an estimated 93GW of new solar and wind build.
Kyle Harrison, BNEF Senior Associate said: “Corporations faced a wave of adversity in 2020 – internal corporate functions were disrupted on the outset of the pandemic, and many companies saw revenues plummet as global economies buckled. To not only maintain, but grow, the clean energy procurement market under these conditions is a testament to how high sustainability is on many corporations’ agendas.”
Harrison added that investor interest in sustainability is “sky high”, with inflows to sustainability-focused funds growing 300% between 2019 and 2020.
“Companies in all sectors, including hard-to-abate ones like oil & gas and mining, are feeling the pressure to purchase clean energy and decarbonise,” he said.