Corporate Green Power Effort Expands to Europe

Some of the largest companies in the world this week announced they have increased their purchases of renewable energy. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and members of its Green Power Market Development Group announced 185 new MW of renewable energy purchases and projects, bringing the total number of MW under contract to 360 — the average size of a coal-fired power plant.

At 360 MW, member companies of the Green Power Market Development Group are more than a third of the way to their goal of building markets for 1000 MW of new, cost-competitive green power in the United States. At a press conference this week as part of the United Nations’ climate change meetings, WRI also announced the launch of a similar corporate renewable energy purchasing partnership in Europe. The Green Power Market Development Group is a commercial and industrial partnership dedicated to building corporate markets for green power. In the United States its members are Alcoa, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, FedEx Kinko’s, General Motors, IBM, Interface, Johnson & Johnson, NatureWorks LLC, Pitney Bowes, Staples and Starbucks. “These companies are using clean energy to produce the products and services people use every day. They are demonstrating that low carbon technologies can be part of mainstream corporate energy purchases,” said Jonathan Lash, president of WRI. In fact, seven of these companies now purchase at least 10 percent of their annual U.S. electricity consumption from renewables. Group members also are among the largest non-utility buyers of renewable energy in the United States. Johnson & Johnson is currently the country’s largest corporate buyer of green power products. Johnson & Johnson and General Motors are the nation’s second and third largest corporate users of solar photovoltaic systems. GM and DuPont are the country’s two largest corporate users of landfill gas for thermal energy while Starbucks, IBM and Johnson & Johnson are the three largest corporate buyers of renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind farms. RECs are purchased separately from electricity and allow buyers to support renewable power facilities without being located near the site where the electricity is fed into the wires. “Over the past five years, this partnership has helped IBM develop its approach to renewable energy,” said Greg Peterson, manager of global energy for IBM. “IBM now uses renewables to stabilize energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Projects and purchases in 2005 are taking place at more than 140 facilities across 15 states: — Alcoa is installing 42 MW of new capacity at its Tapoco hydroelectric facility in eastern Tennessee. The entire facility was just certified as low-impact by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI), making it the largest LIHI-approved hydroelectric project on the East coast. — Starbucks Coffee Company is purchasing 150 million kWh per year of Green-e certified wind RECs — equivalent to 20 percent of the annual electricity consumed by its U.S. company stores. — IBM will be buying 96 million kWh per year of Green-e certified wind RECs for its U.S. facilities. This will be the fourth largest corporate purchase of certified RECs in the United States. — NatureWorks, LLC has contracted for 59 million kWh per year of Green-e certified wind RECs from the Great Plains, making NatureWorks PLA the first greenhouse gas-neutral polymer. — DuPont, General Motors, IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Staples are installing 2.2 MW of onsite solar photovoltaic systems to provide electricity for corporate facilities. — FedEx Kinko’s, Interface and Pitney Bowes committed to 7 MW of new renewable power and REC purchases. “These firms are joined today in Europe by an expanded set of companies that will explore new renewable projects that complement progressive EU policies on renewables,” Lash said. “Climate change is a global issue, and these leaders demonstrate that their companies can look across borders to find alternative green energy solutions to fit their local circumstances.” Four European companies — British Telecom, Holcim, IKEA and Tetra Pak — join the European businesses of The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, General Motors, Interface Europe, Johnson & Johnson, Nike (CSC) and Staples to form the Green Power Market Development Group Europe. This new effort will explore opportunities to install renewable energy generation systems such as solar, wind, and biomass at their facilities in Europe and to purchase green electricity from their utilities. The European partners will evaluate and deploy a variety of renewable energy technologies and engage the marketplace to take green power to scale. Collaborating with WRI on this effort is The Climate Group, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to building coalitions of businesses as well as city, state and national governments to address climate change.
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