Achieving Sustainability Goals in Times of Uncertainty is a blog series launched in response to an outcry for support from energy and sustainability professionals. The confluence of recent regulatory and trade restrictions at play in the United States, namely the Suniva solar trade case, proposed power market rule changes, and corporate tax reform, has led to uncertainty in the renewable energy industry as we enter 2018. The availability of renewable energy is critical for organizations to meet sustainability goals. In this series, we intend to provide guidance renewable energy buyers need in the face of an uncertain regulatory environment. While this series is directed at U.S. professionals coping with these changes, the content is intended for all. To begin with part 1 in this series, click here. To read part 2, click here. To read part 3, click here.
Though there remains some market uncertainty in the United States, many global markets foster vibrant existing and emerging renewable energy opportunities for commercial and industrial (C&I) buyers to consider. While the U.S. is arguably one of the most mature, accessible markets for renewable energy in the world, under the current political environment it behooves companies to consider a diversified global approach to help mitigate regulatory risk. Companies are already uncovering attractive opportunities for global renewable energy.
Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are among the first C&I buyers to venture into global renewable energy markets to provide clean power for facilities abroad. While each market has regulatory considerations of its own, purchasing renewable energy in new markets helps mitigate risk, accelerate global goals, and claim stake as a leader in the global renewable energy space.
The European electricity market has a significant level of renewable penetration, driven by favorable government incentives to date. Changes are underway, including an update to the European Energy Strategy to build upon the rapidly approaching 2020 deadline. This strategy now suggests an increase to 27% renewable capacity across the EU by 2030. There is also ambition for increasing the alignment of Guarantee of Origin (GO) systems across the region. For companies with operations in Europe, this market presents several opportunities worth consideration.
Belgium and the Netherlands are attractive markets for C&I buyers with load in Europe, as the deregulated, interconnected grid and robust GO market make renewable energy in the form of energy attribute certificates (EACs) generally accessible. Direct power purchase agreements (PPAs) are viable in these countries, with several C&I deals having taken place. Virtual PPAs are also possible.
Poland also has emerging opportunities. The pro-coal government there is forcing existing renewable energy projects to seek alternative revenue streams, meaning there is an opening for C&I buyers to play an essential role in supporting operating renewable energy projects in the country.
The United Kingdom is another appealing market in Europe for C&I buyers, where deregulation and a shift away from subsidies have developers looking toward virtual and direct PPA structures. Though economics and complexity have historically challenged C&I participation in the UK, recent developments make the prospect of a cost-competitive renewable PPA here realistic.
In January of 2016, the Mexican government began the process of deregulating its electricity market, previously mandated by a law (Ley de la Industria Electrica) passed in August, 2014. Until then, the state-owned utility, CFE, owned the rights to all transmission, distribution, and nearly 50% of all generation assets within the country. With the recent reform, the electricity market in Mexico has opened to competitive distribution and generation as more developers enter the space to sell electricity to CFE and other Electric Service Providers (ESPs) via the newly established wholesale marketplace.
As the market transitions from the ‘old’ regulated to ‘new’ liberalized market, there is a unique window of opportunity to evaluate projects that avail of the old rules against new market offers. Market participants are able to evaluate a range of procurement options, from short-term deals from existing projects to long-term PPA transactions that can stimulate ‘additional’ new build assets – and everything in between. Many are seeing electricity bill savings up to 40% by moving away from the incumbent supplier, CFE.
Global organizations including General Motors, Home Depot, Volkswagen, and Walmart have all completed renewable PPA deals in Mexico. Achieving these attractive benefits depends on availability of projects. The pool of projects that enjoy the considerable benefits of the ‘old’ market rules is finite; interested buyers are recommended to initiate PPA processes as soon as possible.
Aggressive national renewable energy targets across India indicate that the country is coming into a time of rapid and exciting growth in the energy industry. The Modi Government enacted a policy that sets an ambitious target of 175GW of renewable energy installed by 2020. Several Indian states – including those in the south, such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu – offer favorable incentives for corporates looking to procure either offsite or onsite PPAs.
Due to a confluence of factors, a renewable energy market for C&I buyers is emerging in Australia. Recent restrictions of gas supply and rising production costs in the country have caused a spike in wholesale and retail electricity prices, prompting customers to explore ways to gain greater control over their energy consumption.
This price pressure has opened up a market for renewable energy PPAs as a cost-effective solution for C&I companies with operations in Australia. As a result, there is an opportunity to alleviate significant and crippling energy price increases, mitigate conventional energy volatility, acquire Large Generation Certificates (LGCs), and meet carbon reduction goals. In 2017, Telstra, a telecommunications company with large energy use, became the first major corporation to sign a solar PPA. Australia currently provides, arguably, the most economically-attractive PPAs in the world.
To keep up to date on the ever-changing global energy market, we invite you to attend our interactive webinar on January 25th, featuring energy expert John powers of Schneider Electric and Keith Martin of Norton Rose Fulbright, a guiding voice on the current regulatory environment. At this live event, you will have the chance to talk directly with our experts about regulatory implications for C&I renewable energy buyers. We also welcome your questions and invite you to reach out to our team any time.