The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken energy markets around the world, but has not stopped the clean energy juggernaut. More than 130 global companies together bought 23.7 gigawatts of wind and sun last year. As a sign of the future here in the US, Texas is becoming a center of solar activity in addition to its status as a wind power leader.
Global companies keep coming together to create clean energy
Six years ago, leading US corporations organized a strong campaign of public relations and lobbying in support of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. They never let up and push for it more investments in renewable energies all through the Trump administration. In addition, world-leading oil and gas players such as Total were represented in France switch to renewable energies to meet the increasing demand for clean energy.
According to a new report by BloombergNEF, global clean energy purchases of 23.7 gigawatts last year doubled its 2018 output of 13.6 gigawatts. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the total number of such acquisitions rose 18 percent in 2020 from 20.1 gigawatts in 2019.
The 130 companies covered by BNEF represent a wide range of sectors but all have one common characteristic.
“The underpinning of the market increases the interest of the stakeholders in the sustainability of companies and expands the access to clean energy worldwide”, explains BNEF.
How the US nearly dropped the clean energy ball
In a hint that former President Trump’s fossil-friendly policies may have impacted the US, corporate investments in clean energy fell for the first time since 2016 year over year. The amount fell from 14.1 gigawatts in 2020 to 11.9 gigawatts in 2019.
Still, the US remains the largest clean energy market in the world. BNEF also attributes some of the decline to the pandemic, suggesting that clean energy buyers in the US are ready to pick up where they left off.
Despite the problems domestically, top US companies and brands continued to influence growth in the global renewable energy market over the past year. Anheuser-Busch, who became part of the Belgian company AB InBev in 2008, is believed to have helped drive the booming Spanish clean energy market in 2020. Globally, US tech companies Amazon, Google, Facebook and Verizon ranked four of the top five spots for clean energy purchases last year.
Sunny skies (and steady wind) for clean energy buyers
Taiwan is another market that has grown sharply over the past year despite the pandemic. BNEF attributes the sudden surge in activity in part to increased interest from the country’s many manufacturers, who are under pressure from corporate customers looking to decarbonise their supply chains.
More likely, though, most of the impetus came from a policy change. BNEF notes that Taiwan has imposed a new need for clean energy on companies consuming 5 megawatts or more annually.
Similarly, BNEF expects a new energy policy in South Korea to spark a new wave of corporate activity in the local clean electricity market.
Here in the US, Republican Congressmen could slow down or stop federal clean energy legislation. However, President Biden has already done so Climate protection has top priority across all federal agencies. The purchasing power of Ministry of Defense Alone will help drive the market for decarbonization, including energy efficiency and clean fuels, as well as wind and solar power.
All eyes on the Lone Star State
As an indication that the US is on the lookout for another clean energy burst in the coming months, solar developers are beginning to test the waters in Texas.
Texas is already a leader in wind energy in the United States, but has been slow to exploit its rich solar resources. That could change with the advent of network improvements Balance between wind and solar radiation, in addition to growing demand from energy buyers.
In the latest development, EU-based solar company Lightsource BP announced the start of construction for a new company earlier this week 316 megawatts, $ 380 million solar project in Texas, consisting of two solar panels that are said to be about 40 miles from Dallas.
Two companies L3Harris and the Capital Solutions unit of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) have already staked their clean energy demands from the new arrays.
The project is expected to complete before the end of this year, and there is much more on the agenda for the Lone Star State. Chicago-based solar developer Invenergy announced construction late last year the largest solar system in the USA, a 1.31 gigawatt hub that supports clean energy purchases from AT&T, McDonalds, Google, Home Depot, and Honda, as well as several municipal buyers.
Texas’s role in the clean energy transition in the US is particularly significant given its dominant position in the oil and gas industry. Regardless of federal law, Texas is on track to accelerate climate action in the US
It’s not a moment too soon. According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency, global Electricity demand only took a temporary nosedive during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. The Biden government’s move to energy policy, including electrifying vehicles, is likely to keep US demand rising for many years to come.
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