Investor View on Profitable Clean Energy in Corporate America

Key Takeaways:

  • American companies are investing in renewables because it serves their bottom line
  • “Virtual Power Plants” are becoming popular as companies sign solar power purchase agreements
  • Big names like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Walmart are leading renewables investment

Industrial giants in the United States—from tech behemoths like Apple and Facebook to corporate mainstays like 3M and Anheuser-Busch—are investing in clean energy for the basic reason that it is helping their bottom line. Though the reason may not be altruistic, the move to go clean (while saving some green) on energy allows America’s biggest corporations to do their part to address climate change – all while showcasing an environmentally responsible face to investors and customers. The following are some clean energy examples from corporate America.

Anheuser-Busch and Recurrent Energy

Understanding the corporate path to 100% renewables begins by understanding the deals struck in achieving the goal.  Recently, Anheuser-Busch and Recurrent Energy (owned by Canadian Solar) entered into a power purchase agreement, whereby the beverage giant is using energy generated from a 222 Megawatt solar plant in Texas – even though the electricity may not be solely for Anheuser’s use. Recurrent will feed the generated power into the regional grid for a fee, enabling the grid operator to pool together multiple sources of energy and distribute the net electricity from the plant to Anheuser. The end result is a win-win-win for the solar producer, grid operator, and buyer. Motley Fool’s article says it best:: “Renewable energy makes good financial sense for companies around the world, and it’s expanding the industry’s potential market.”

Other Companies using “Virtual Power Plants”

“Virtual power plant” structures, similar to the Anheuser/Recurrent agreement, are soaring in popularity across the corporate landscape – with data-heavy tech leaders such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft leading the charge. Older blue chip corporations like 3M are also getting in the mix as they view these types of clean energy agreements as a sensible ROI approach to addressing their energy needs.

Other Examples of Clean Energy Projects in Corporate America

Retail giants like Walmart and Target are also leveraging clean energy by installing solar arrays on their stores that serve their power needs. These corporations – whose brick-and-mortar footprint and dispersed structures are nowhere near as centralized as an Amazon campus – lend themselves to installing solar arrays.

Solar Panels on a Walmart in Peoria Arizona
Solar Panels on a Walmart in Peoria, Arizona (From Walmart’s feed)

179 U.S. companies to date have signed the RE100 commitment – moving them toward 100% renewable energy.  While these commitments may have started as a strategic C-Suite business decision as opposed to an altruistic goal, the fact is that sourcing zero-carbon electricity helps companies go green while seeing more green.

What We’re Reading: “Why Corporate America Loves Renewable Energy,” published in The Motley Fool