The fact that some of the major companies in the U.S. are also now some of the largest users of renewable energy in the world is not necessarily breaking news. Google and Walmart, Google by 2030 and Walmart by 2035, are among the latest to make headlines with ambitious pledges to carbon-free operations and the list continues to grow.
But the figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)’s latest study underscore the crucial role these corporate renewable energy commitments now play in continuing market development, especially in the absence of federal policy.
U.S. companies added 1,286 MW of PV projects to the grid last year, accounting for just under 10 per cent of all new solar projects in the United States, according to the Solar Means Business 2019 survey. The estimates for this year reflect a modest raise from the 1,144 MW deployed in 2018, while the total corporate solar count now stands at more than 8 GW across 38,000 projects.
Best SEIA factoid: 7.2 million Americans, 2.2 per cent of the country, shop at a Walmart with a solar panel every week. Last year, with 122.3 MW, the supermarket chain led the list for fresh solar, but was only No. 3 in the combined overall rankings, falling behind chart leaders Apple and Amazon.
What pushes the private sector, said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, is a mix of low prices and renewable energy goals. Businesses are ‘walking the walk’ on climate promises, she added, while installation of commercial PV costs continue to plummet, 12% from 2018 to 2019 and 30% over the past five years.
Any smaller commercial projects have been postponed by Covid-19, but ultimately, the major players in the industry are going forward with their expected installs. Other key developments cited in the study include the increased investment by companies in off-site solar plants, which now account for nearly one-third of all corporate energy. It is expected that off-site ventures exceeding 5 GW will go live by 2022.
More corporate companies and larger ventures are also being drawn into the solar sector by the rapid growth of storage.
The study highlights projects such as the Nevada Rob Roy Gigawatt plant, which is being built by Switch, a data centre provider, and is planned to be one of the world’s largest behind-the-meter solar and storage projects.
Source – here