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3 steps for creating your company’s renewable energy strategy

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At the Global Climate Action Summit this fall, stakeholders from around the globe will meet in San Francisco to discuss how we can take climate ambition to the next level. Business can play a significant leadership role in accelerating the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and as we have seen through initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), renewable energy can be a key component of climate action efforts.

Corporate renewable energy procurement should be guided by a defined strategy based on available options, key priorities and ambition. To create your strategy, you must identify your company’s motivations for procuring renewable energy, adopt supporting goals and commitments and identify available internal human and financial resources to aid execution.

These are the steps we would suggest to help you get started.

1. Assess your options

The first step is to assess the landscape of renewable energy sourcing options available on the market to determine what is feasible. This ultimately will determine the renewable energy options available to you.

Current and future policies will affect renewable energy costs, incentives and availability. The Climate Policy Tracker can be a useful tool in assessing how regulations will affect your renewable energy choices in various jurisdictions.

After narrowing procurement options based on geography, your company must consider specific site constraints. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is your real estate portfolio suitable for onsite renewable energy generation? Leased assets often pose a challenge for onsite generation, requiring companies to liaise with their landlords; however, renewable energy availability also poses a challenge. For example, a company that leases retail space in an urban locality with poor solar energy potential may not have the option of leveraging onsite renewable energy, despite a supportive landlord.
  • If your real estate portfolio is suitable for onsite generation, what is the energy capacity of potential projects/installations? Companies with owned or leased assets that support onsite renewable energy generation should consider the energy capacity of any potential projects/installations and use this to calibrate their local procurement implementation. Asset type and energy capacity should be significant considerations when negotiating contract terms with potential project developers.
  • What is your time horizon? Long-term contracts should not be considered for sites likely to be eliminated from the real estate portfolio before the termination of the power generation contract.

2. Create your strategy

Once you’ve determined what your renewable energy options are, the next step is to determine your ambition level and define your strategy for renewable energy. To ensure adoption and integration within your company, this should complement both your business and sustainability strategies.

A company with existing energy intensity, greenhouse gas reduction and business growth goals should design a renewable energy strategy that complements existing objectives and initiatives to facilitate execution. Available financial resources should factor prominently into this and ultimately will dictate the realistic level of ambition your company can set.

Your strategy should reflect your company’s motivation for renewable energy procurement. For example, a company seeking to grow the renewable energy market and illustrate private sector demand for clean power may prioritize options such as new onsite or regional solar installations and choose to purchase only renewable energy attributes (such as RECs) bundled with renewable power.

One example of this is Intuit’s Purely Green Program, which the company launched in part to show market demand for wind energy in Texas for its business partners, employees and customers. Adobe’s renewable energy strategy prioritizes onsite installations and PPAs, supported by energy efficiency and policy advocacy, to meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s strategy aims to source roughly 75 percent of its electricity from direct PPAs and roughly 25 percent from onsite installations.

3. Identify opportunities to collaborate

While renewable energy procurement variables can be complex to navigate, you do not need to work in isolation. Collaborating with other companies can help you achieve your strategic renewable energy objectives and minimize the barriers to entry for procurement.

For example, you could consider partnering with a group of companies with regional operations who are willing to enter into a shared procurement contract. This approach, known as consortium aggregation, is both feasible for companies with energy demands that are typically individually too small for project developers and companies with significant energy demands that appropriately can distribute the project load. For example, AkzoNobel, DSM, Google and Philips leveraged (PDF) this approach in the Netherlands — each company assumed an equal stake in a wind PPA there. The shared contract also can be anchored by a company that assumes the majority share of the energy, leaving smaller companies to assume small shares of the overall project load.

Initiatives such as the Future of Internet Power and REBA also can provide the resources and tools for companies to execute against their renewable energy strategies together. Contact BSR if you’re interested in learning more about how you can help increase your climate ambition with renewable energy in advance of the Global Climate Action Summit.

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