by Sharon Ha
Companies are beginning to show increased interest in investment and implementation of clean energy. The RE100 initiative, which encourages companies to go 100% renewable, currently has 56 businesses signed up and continues to grow. Many of these companies are influential and established brands, such as Ikea, Adobe, and Coca- Cola Enterprises. Furthermore, Intel recently constructed the largest corporate solar carport in the US at its Folsom, California campus. The solar carport will be able to meet over 50% of the campus’s energy needs. Additionally, Google, Apple, and more than 20 other companies have signed contracts to supply their respective headquarters with clean energy. However, there is still a long way to go to ensure that clean energy is sustainable and profitable for businesses. In this GreenBiz article, reporter Heather Clancy outlines three different ways that companies can best utilize renewable energy.
First, companies should draw on a range of clean energy methods, such as wind, solar, fuel cells, and waste-to-energy. For example, General Motors (GM) is investing heavily in both solar electricity and landfill gas. According to GM’s manager of renewable energy, Rob Threlkeld, there is an approximately $6 million return on investment.
Second, while rooftop solar panel installations have been a popular clean energy method for companies, such as IKEA and Walmart, businesses need to make sure that their buildings are able to sustain solar panels. For instance, Home Depot is delaying its solar panel installation because the roofs on its buildings will need to be replaced within the next 15 years. So, Home Depot is updating its buildings first, and then installing solar panels. However, this is a staggered process so that the operation team does not need to renegotiate many contracts at once.
Third, utilities are slowly beginning to take clean energy more seriously. As demand grows, utilities are working to accommodate businesses that want to purchase more renewable energy. Investor-owned utilities are beginning to create new services exclusively for companies that want to use renewable energy, such as Xcel Energy’s service, Renewable Connect. These initiatives are a part of “green tariff” programs, which allow utilities to offer renewable energy services at competitive rates, provide flexible contracts, and lower transaction costs.
Clancy, Heather. “Companies are getting creative about clean energy.” Text. GreenBiz, February 29, 2016. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/companies-are-getting-creative-about-clean-energy.
Hepler, Lauren. “Apple, Google and the evolving economics of energy.” Text. GreenBiz, February 11, 2015. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/google-inc-apple-inc-wind-solar-fossil-fuels-renewable-energy-economics.
“Chip Shot: Intel Unveils Largest Corporate Solar Carport in the U.S. at Folsom, Calif. Campus.” Intel Newsroom. Accessed March 1, 2016. https://newsroom.intel.com/chip-shots/chip-shot-intel-unveils-largest-corporate-solar-carport-in-the-u-s-at-folsom-calif-campus/.