As a reader of this website, you probably already know how important offtakers are to clean energy transactions. Never before have energy consumers come together to collectively and collaboratively drive the clean energy future as they are now in the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. And this is happening not a moment too soon for our climate, because large energy consumers have a critical role to play.
In the United States, the commercial and industrial sectors are responsible for approximately 50% of all energy consumption and 34% of emissions, representing a significant opportunity for improvement through the implementation of renewable energy sources. However, significant barriers exist in the procurement landscape, which can be difficult to navigate for nascent energy buyers especially when regulatory and policy challenges are factored into the equation. Despite the complexities, 2018 saw a record 6.5 gigawatts (GW) of large-scale renewable energy deals by non-utility corporate buyers—proving that greater progress is possible.
The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), established in early 2019, is a central resource intended to harness the power of large energy consumers to drive a shift in energy markets. REBA is a community of over 400 energy buyers, energy suppliers, and service providers with one singular vision—a resilient, zero-carbon future where every organization has a viable, expedient, affordable path to procure renewable energy.
There has been an uptick in awareness around corporate clean energy procurement because our members are democratizing renewable energy. Wind and solar technologies are no longer seen as risky investments. Quite the opposite—they are seen as commonsense practices that provide an opportunity to integrate resilience, while increasing revenue and ultimately contributing to improving communities.
Consumer interest in sustainable products is on the rise, and we have witnessed a steady flow of news about companies making big bets on clean energy. Anheuser-Busch devoted Super Bowl airtime to promoting their use of wind energy. Facebook and Longroad Energy recently started construction on the Prospero Solar project in Andrews County, Texas, which will be one of the largest solar farms in the United States, boasting an installed generation capacity of 379 megawatts (MW). Walmart and US Solar have partnered to create 36 community solar gardens of 1 MW capacity that will generate clean renewable energy and provide energy savings to Walmart locations in 13 separate counties. Target has committed to a 100% renewable energy goal and its latest renewable power purchase agreements will help enable the construction of projects that will generate approximately 556,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity—the equivalent of 280 Target stores annually throughout the United States.
Energy deals are complex and outside the expertise of most companies. Through REBA, newcomers to the market can find primers, guides, case studies, and even boot camps to help them navigate their first transactions. REBA helps more experienced companies exchange information so that hard-earned lessons can be shared. This community has successfully been a part of 95% of all large-scale US corporate renewable energy deals. However, to truly scale impact, it will be vital to innovate in policy, market structure, and next-generation technologies.
Energy policies and regulations are frequently proposed in states and markets with little or no input from consumers. REBA’s policy innovation team enhances the ability of buyers to engage on policy by providing research, analysis, and actionable information so they have a greater understanding of the role and importance of policy to their own sustainability and clean energy goals, while also educating policymakers and other key stakeholders about buyers’ policy needs so that they are reflected in their decisions. Giving large energy buyers a voice at the table will facilitate a rapid transition to a cleaner, prosperous, zero-carbon energy future.
The energy landscape is changing faster than in modern history, which requires an adaptive management approach to procurement. REBA is helping the market evolve beyond just power purchase agreements and is working with its diverse membership to create solutions that integrate more forward-thinking procurement strategies. Whether in collaboration with the US Department of Energy National Laboratories system or philanthropic organizations, innovation is a focal point in ensuring that members are ahead of market trends and are able to reach their sustainability goals.
REBA is also creating a global renewable energy network because the carbon footprint of many products is baked into precursor materials that are sourced internationally. This network can help companies share regional expertise, engage suppliers to improve their energy efficiency to reduce demand, and integrate renewable energy supply to their energy mix. Buyers interested in the same regions use REBA to share information about grid planning, renewable opportunities, and efficiency opportunities, and to connect to international platforms.
REBA’s membership represents a broad market trend toward an increase in renewable energy commitments across the board—cities, states, education, etc. Our goal is to harness the market power of our members to catalyze 60 GW of renewable energy by 2025 towards a resilient, zero-energy future. Join us.
This article is part of Renewable Energy World’s contribution to Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.