United States

United States

Corporate buyers match utilities in wind deals

Fortune 500 brands and other non-utility buyers purchased a record amount of wind power in 2018, according to a new Q4 report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

US installed wind capacity stands at 96.5GW as of the end of 2018 (pic: AWEA)
US installed wind capacity stands at 96.5GW as of the end of 2018 (pic: AWEA)

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Customers like the telecommunications giant AT&T, Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Shell Energy purchased a record 4.2GW of wind power capacity in 2018 via long-term power purchase agreements (PPA).

Contracted wind capacity from non-utility customers — including universities and cities — in 2018 had surged 66% higher than the previous record in 2015, said the trade group.

Indeed, data tracked by the Business Renewables Center indicate that wind provides more energy to corporate brands than any other renewable source.

credit: Rocky Mountain Institute (click to enlarge)

In 2018 alone, 6.5GW of wind, solar and other renewables was purchased by US corporations.

"Businesses are responding to their customers by seeking out the lowest-cost clean energy they can find to power their products and operations reliably," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.

"Wind power’s record-setting 2018 proves you really can have it all.

"A rapidly growing number of big brands and utilities clearly understand that for American consumers, it’s no longer enough for energy to be affordable and reliable, it must also be clean."

Utilities signed contracts for 4.3GW of wind power in 2018, only slightly higher than corporate purchases.

When combined with non-utility purchases, the contracts reached the highest level on record for overall PPA activity with 8.5GW in 2018.

Installations

Given the rush to install projects with the Production Tax Credit (PTC) being phased out, installations rose to the third strongest quarter in the industry’s history.

The industry commissioned 7.6GW of wind power capacity in 2018, up from 7GW in 2017.

The US’s cumulative total now stands at 96.5GW, with more than 56,800 wind turbines operating across 41 states, said AWEA.

Projects totaling 2.1GW started construction and a further 3.7GW entered the advanced development phase in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Almost 35.1GW is either under construction or in advanced development, said the trade group.

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