Surge in business renewable energy demand

Renewable energy sourcing from major businesses globally last year was enough to almost power France, according to a new report.

Companies in 75 countries sourced 465 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable energy in 2017, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said.

With the continued decline in the costs of renewables, the report suggests, corporate demand will continue to increase as companies seek to reduce electricity bills, hedge against future price spikes and address sustainability concerns.

Corporate Sourcing of Renewables: Market and Industry Trends, the first global assessment of trends and policies in corporate sourcing of renewables, shows that renewable energy sourcing by private sector companies can be a key factor in meeting the aims of the Paris Agreement.

According to the report, environmental and sustainability concerns, social responsibility and reputation management and economic and financial objectives are the three primary drivers of corporate sourcing.

Renewables now ‘mainstream pillar’

“Renewable energy sourcing has become a mainstream pillar of business strategy in recent years,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin. “While environmental concerns initiated this growing trend, the strengthening business case and price stability offered by renewables can deliver a competitive advantage to corporations, and support sustainable growth.”

The findings of the report show that half of the over 2,400 large companies analysed are procuring or investing in self-generation of renewable electricity for their operations.

Of the companies in the study, more than 200 source at least half of their power from renewables.

“Corporations are responsible for around two-thirds of the world’s total final electricity demand, making them central to, and key actors in, the energy transformation,” continued Amin.

“As governments all over the world recognise this vast potential, the development of policies that foster and encourage corporate sourcing in the electricity sector and beyond will inject additional needed investment in renewable energy.”

Targets represent opportunity

The report found that the corporate sourcing trend is now “widespread and dynamic”.

By volume, the majority of renewable electricity was consumed in the materials sector while the highest shares of renewable electricity consumption are found in the financial (24 per cent) and information technology (12 per cent ) sectors. Countries in Europe and North America continue to account for the bulk of corporate sourcing.

Of the companies analysed in the report, only 17 per cent have a renewable electricity target in place.

Three-quarters of those targets will expire before 2020, representing a significant opportunity for corporates to develop new medium to long-term renewable energy strategies and targets that factor in improvements in renewable energy technology and cost declines

> Read the report here