Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Facebook, Microsoft and L’Oreal shape strong quarter
Large companies announced deals for at least 1,731 megawatts of capacity in renewable power during the first quarter of this year, in a sign of continued strong corporate demand for clean energy.
The amount of clean energy that businesses contracted for during the first three months of 2018 was more than half the amount that companies agreed to buy during all of last year, according to figures compiled by GreenBiz Research and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center.
Five of those contracts were for more than 100 megawatts of wind or solar power (chart below).
Besides the big, early boost, one thing that’s different so far this year is the array of creative, unique agreements, said Bryn Baker, deputy director of renewable energy at the World Wildlife Fund and head of the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.
“Companies are trying to link their commitment to renewables with deals that show a real impact,” she said.
In one example, Nestle’s U.S. business signed a 15-year agreement to buy 50 megawatts of power from an Indiana wind farm that will serve Nestle facilities in Pennsylvania. Although Nestle’s plants are in a different state from the wind farm, they use the same regional grid and power market, the PJM Interconnection. The 50 megawatts will come from an expansion of an existing wind farm, according to the company.
“In Pennsylvania, they couldn’t find a local project that would work for them, but they did want to tell an impact story,” Baker said. “They found a project in Indiana that was on the same transmission grid, and because it’s in the same grid region, for all intents and purposes, it’s as local as you need to get. We’re seeing more companies that are firing on all cylinders to create options where they are.”
The biggest single deal
Facebook signed a deal in March to buy all the power generated from a 320-megawatt Nebraska wind farm by 2029 to power a new data center in Papillion, Nebraska, about 120 miles from the wind farm.
The bundled, long-term power purchase agreement that Facebook signed with project owner and developer Enel Green Power North America is actually an amended version of a contract the companies signed in November for 200 megawatts of wind power.
The wind farm, Rattlesnake Creek, is under construction and is expected to start generating power by the end of 2018. In a companion contract, Adobe has agreed to buy 10 megawatts of power and renewable energy credits from the project from 2019 through 2028, through a bundled power purchase agreement. Due to supply needs, Facebook will buy all the wind farm’s power to serve its data center starting in 2029, according to the companies.