Last week, financial and analytical company S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, high-tech US companies were actively developing new wind and solar projects last year and signed large contracts for the purchase of electricity from renewable sources. The leader in the number of new projects is the online retailer Amazon, which has signed agreements in 14 countries around the world. Also among the leaders were such high-tech companies as Microsoft, Google and Facebook.
Solar Powered Internet
S&P Global Market Intelligence reports that “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many industries in the global energy sector. However, the corporate renewable energy market developed as if nothing had happened. ” The researchers note that last year, new capacities were introduced around the world or new agreements were concluded for the purchase of electricity for 20 thousand MW, which is a new record for the corporate renewable energy segment.
Taking into account past projects, the total volume of agreements in this area with Amazon’s participation has reached 8.5 thousand MW. Amazon’s biggest project last year was the 1,350 MW expansion of a solar power plant in Ohio. However, the company’s activities to promote renewable energy are not limited to the United States – last year the company signed agreements on the development of solar or wind projects in 13 more countries, including Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden, South Africa, China, Australia.
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High-tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook are among the leaders in terms of participation in new projects and the purchase of renewable electricity. Google last year signed agreements for a total of 1,000 MW, bringing its total solar and wind projects, agreements and capacity to 6,200 MW. It was Google that became one of five companies that signed an agreement on the purchase of electricity from one of the largest solar power plants in the United States, Samson Solar in Texas, with a capacity of 1.3 thousand MW.
At the end of last year, Facebook signed agreements and took part in new projects with a total capacity of 3 thousand MW. The largest projects were the purchase of a total of 700 MW from solar power plants in Utah, as well as 400 MW of wind and solar power from plants in New Mexico. In addition, the company has signed agreements with wind farms in Ireland and Norway and a solar power plant in Singapore.
Microsoft increased its renewable power portfolio by more than 500 MW last year to 2,700 MW. The largest for Microsoft were agreements for the purchase of electricity for 225 MW from the Pleinmont Solar II solar farm in Virginia and 178 MW from the Bloom Wind Power in Kansas. Microsoft already has signed agreements for the purchase of renewable electricity in the Netherlands, Singapore and Ireland.
Not a single high-tech
Wind turbines in Kansas, USA
Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP
Other US companies have also been very active in expanding their solar and wind energy portfolios in the past year. Telecommunications company Verizon has announced new contracts and projects for a total capacity of 1,700 MW, while its telecom rival AT&T has announced 500 MW. Cloud developer Salesforce signed a contract with energy company X-Elio last year to purchase 200 MW of power from its solar farm in Australia. Carmaker General Motors, metallurgical company Nucor and fast food chain McDonald’s signed agreements last year and took part in new projects with a total capacity of 680 MW, 583 MW and 517 MW, respectively. Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewery has signed a contract to purchase 240 MW of electricity from solar farms in Spain and the UK. Apple has entered into an agreement to purchase 67 MW from solar and wind power plants in Denmark.
Experts note that the demand for renewable energy from the US corporate sector is constantly growing, stimulating market development. Against the backdrop of a series of new deals and projects in October last year, research firm IHS Markit released a report in which it noted that the demand for renewable energy in the United States is the largest precisely from the corporate sector.
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“Fueled by appeals from shareholders and activists, companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to diversify their energy sources while combining this with their own plans to meet their renewable energy goals,” said Anna Spitzberg, director of global electricity and renewable energy market research at IHS Markit.
IHS Markit notes that currently about 220 large US companies are either consuming renewable electricity or have signed agreements to purchase it. Of these, 40% of companies already have a clear plan to expand their participation in solar or wind energy projects until the mid-2020s.