By Julia-Marie Becker
This article was published by the Pembina Institute on Sept. 26, 2019.
Always the trendsetter, last week, Google made the largest ever corporate purchase of renewable energy. The massive deal will result in 18 new renewable energy projects around the world, worth $2 billion and will generate 1,600 megawatts — the equivalent of 290,000 rooftops covered in solar panels.
This large-scale renewables purchase is in line with a growing trend we’ve seen from companies outside of Canada over the last few years. The best news is, this trend is here to stay. The price of renewables has never been more competitive, and we’re seeing that right here at home. In Alberta, we’ve recently seen record low prices of 3.7 cents/Kwhr for wind and 4.8 cents/kwhr for solar.
Having worked towards this for years, the Pembina Institute joined with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) in 2017 to make buying and selling renewables easier.
Modelled after RMI’s successful work in this area, we established the Business Renewables Centre (BRC) Canada — a member based initiative that connects buyers and sellers, supports buyers in how to move through the purchasing process to secure the most advantageous deals, and helps simplify and accelerate the completion of large scale renewable deals.
Working with the BRC, what makes good business sense for an individual company, also makes sense for the environment and the wider economy — these renewable purchases not only help decarbonize the grid, but also create local job opportunities and infrastructure investment.
We’re pleased to say that as of today, the BRC Canada has 23 members from a variety of sectors, including the financial, oil and gas, and hospitality sectors, representing buyers, intermediaries and developers.
Companies are seeing the light (powered by renewables)
Companies are getting on the renewable energy train for a range of reasons: pressure from customers and their own employees to be more sustainable; passionate leadership; ensuring market competitiveness.
No matter the reason, one thing is clear — corporate momentum around climate action is stronger than ever. Through the RE100, 194 of the world’s most influential companies have committed to 100 per cent renewables, with members including Apple, General Motors, Facebook, Google, IKEA, Nestle, Phillips, and Unilever is just one example of this kind of leadership.
With this growing demand for renewable electricity from large international corporations, Alberta is ready for the benefits. These companies are shopping for renewables, and Alberta is an ideal market.
The province is rich in renewable energy resources, including wind and solar. Alberta also has a deregulated electricity market that gives buyers the flexibility to enter into contracts directly with generators.
The first of these types of corporate deals have already begun in Alberta, for example, with the construction of the Brooks 1 solar project, the largest solar project in Western Canada. Many corporations, both Canadian companies and multinationals are currently exploring deals within the province.
Going forwards, because of the price on carbon, we may see large emitters using these types of renewable energy projects to offset some of their emissions.
Next month, the Business Renewables Centre Canada will have its first members event, bringing together representatives from companies all across the U.S. and Canada interested in investing in Alberta.
The event is the first of its kind for corporate energy buyers to learn more about renewable energy procurement in Canada and network with other buyers and renewable energy suppliers. Learn more about the BRC Canada, and how your company can become a member and be part of developing what the future of corporate renewable energy procurement in Canada can look like.