You Made a Sustainability Commitment — Now What?
Start Your Corporate Clean Energy Journey
Many corporations are making a sustainability commitment, driven by evolving regulatory standards, stakeholder pressure, energy market volatility, and increasingly severe and evident climate change.
Corporate clean energy procurement is a critical component of achieving our collective global sustainability goals. But how do you get from setting a goal to verifiable, future-proofed renewable energy purchases? If you’ve made a sustainability commitment, check out these considerations to help you navigate the process of buying clean energy.
Audit Your Energy Use and Needs
Before you buy clean energy, you need to conduct a thorough energy audit to understand your current energy consumption patterns and identify areas for improvement.
First, assess your energy needs. Key points to consider include:
- You can’t develop an accurate clean energy procurement strategy without knowing how much energy you use now and projecting how much you’ll need in the future. How much energy do your facilities require? (This is known as your “load”.) Do you expect your hourly load to grow over the next 10+ years?
- Where is your load located? Geography matters when thinking about emissions reduction. Utilities each have their own green tariffs, and each electric grid and wholesale market has unique pricing, congestion, and renewable penetration. These are all factors that affect the cost and carbon-reduction metrics of clean power resources. Emerging voluntary standards and regulatory requirements may also include locational elements that encourage or require you to procure clean energy generation on the grid where you use it.
- Consider your demand periods. Time is also a key component of effective emissions reduction. For instance, if you purchase clean energy from a solar project during the day when renewable resources are abundant but use most of your energy in the evening (drawing from a fossil-fueled grid), you may not see the emissions impact you hoped for.
Set Clean Energy Goals
Establish clear and achievable clean energy goals aligned with your sustainability commitment. Determine the renewable energy strategy that best suits your needs and set a timeline for achieving your renewable targets. Long interconnection queues and construction timelines in the U.S. mean that the commercial operations date of projects may be several years in the future.
“Establish clean energy goals” is very easy to say but very hard to do. This step is often extremely difficult for companies that don’t have deep energy market expertise. How do you know if you should pursue renewable energy credits (RECs), or corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs)? What are the benefits and drawbacks of hourly matching vs. annual matching? Are there utility green tariffs available to you? Does your procurement need to be additional or is it sufficient to support existing projects? Should you try to optimize for 100% RE, carbon matching or 24/7 carbon-free energy (24/7 CFE), or some combination of the three? Maybe you need 100% renewable energy on an annual basis, with 80% CFE? (Check out these helpful resources for explanations of 24/7 CFE (including David Roberts’ Volts podcast) and the Emissions First principles). Tools like Aria can help ensure you – and your leadership team – understand these concepts and their trade-offs so you can set the optimal clean energy goals for your business and de-risk your clean energy procurement strategy.
Explore Renewable Energy Options
Familiarize yourself with the many renewable energy resources available for procurement. These can include solar, wind, lithium-ion energy storage, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, clean hydrogen, power generation with carbon capture and storage, and long-duration energy storage technologies. Each source has unique benefits and considerations based on the emissions reduction strategy you choose. (Side note: Google has an interesting new paper that explores some of these technologies and the role corporate clean energy buyers can play in “helping to address financing, commercial, and other barriers that many of these technologies face today.”)
Assess which options align best with your energy needs, emissions goals (e.g., companies aiming for net zero emissions with 24/7 carbon-free energy will need to incorporate energy storage), geographical location, and budget constraints (for instance, 24/7 CFE requires hourly matching and is more expensive than less complex goals like 100% RE on an annual basis).
Verse can help you determine the right mix of clean power resources. If you can say how much carbon you want to mitigate, what your budget is, and how much exposure you’re willing to have in your clean energy contracts, our software and solution engineers can optimize your clean power procurement.
Your Sustainability Commitment Is Achievable -- Don't Be Discouraged!
Clean energy procurement is a crucial step towards reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the impact of climate change. But it's easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of options and contractual complexity. Sometimes, educational resources geared toward sophisticated power buyers can be more confusing than helpful. But tools exist specifically to make the process faster, easier, and more cost-effective – from determining your clean power procurement philosophy to analyzing clean energy asset options and managing requests for offers (RFOs).
Verse works with you to accomplish the above steps and determine the optimal resources to accelerate your clean energy journey. Drop us a note to learn more! Together, we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come.