The Solar Means Business 2022 report, released November 29 by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), identifies the companies leading the adoption of solar power and energy storage in the United States. The report outlines how American businesses large and small are reaching their 2022 clean energy goals.
Let’s analyze the main trends of this year.
The goals are high…
Raising the bar for corporate climate goals. Of the top 25 companies ranked in this year’s report, 18 pursue 100% renewable energy or carbon neutrality goals. Some leading companies are already achieving their goals. For example, this year’s Top Solar Adopter, Meta, has powered its global operations with 100% renewable energy since 2020 and is now working to achieve a net-zero value chain by 2030.
The shift towards bigger and bolder climate goals has happened in a big way in recent years. Several factors are driving this trend. One, both customers and employees of companies are becoming more demanding. When deciding whether to buy a product, 75% of American adults worry about a company’s impact on the environment, and nearly 70% of employees say they would rather be involved with an organization than they consider to be more environmentally sustainable. more likely to accept a job with sight.
In addition, the economics of renewable energy are rapidly improving, and solar prices have decreased by 53% in the past 10 years. Solar and storage solutions help companies reduce their carbon emissions and increase their profits.
…and companies are getting bigger to satisfy them
The scale of solar adoption found in this year’s report is astronomically higher than in the 2020 edition. Meta has dramatically increased its installed solar capacity from 177 megawatts (MW) in early 2019 to 3.6 GW today and now has the largest corporate solar portfolio in the United States. State. By 2019, Microsoft’s solar capacity could power approximately 8,500 homes a year. It now has enough installed solar capacity to power more than 64,000 homes, a 665% increase.
Overall, about 19 gigawatts of commercial solar power will have been installed in the US by June 2022, which is equivalent to about 14% of all solar capacity in the United States. More than half of its capacity has been installed in the last two years.
Climate advocates today are increasingly examining “greenwashing”, which is when organizations simply say the politically correct thing about sustainability while their actions do not support it. While there is always more work to be done, the leading companies in this report are putting big numbers behind their commitments, with more than 20 million metric tons of carbon offsets from commercial solar projects.
wave of installations in outdoor spaces
A few years ago, the term “commercial solar” conjured up images of solar panels on the roofs of warehouses and big box stores. While it is still a major part of the industry, commercial off-site solar panels now account for 55% of all commercial solar usage. Over 70% of that off-site capacity has gone online in the last two and a half years.
Tech companies are climbing the ranks in this year’s report and are four of the top five corporate solar adopters. With massive data centers vying for power, these companies are looking to capture large amounts of solar energy by using on-site but increasingly off-shoring solar photovoltaic systems to meet their electricity needs.
The construction of offshore solar projects has allowed companies to build on an unprecedented scale. While large-scale solar in the United States used to be strictly reserved for utilities, by 2021 nearly a quarter of all solar projects larger than 1 MW have one or more commercial buyers.
Storage is an increasing part of the equation
In California, the percentage of newly installed commercial on-site systems increased from 0.5% in 2015 to nearly 4% during the first half of 2022.
Energy storage will continue to play an increasing role in meeting corporate climate goals. For companies to supply their facilities with 100% renewable energy throughout the day, they must also include storage with their solar and wind installations.
This is especially true for companies like Google that have 24/7 clean energy goals, meaning facilities run on renewable energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In contrast, 100% renewable targets are defined by a company’s average annual use of renewable energy. Google plans to build one of the largest corporate solar and storage facilities in a data center outside Las Vegas as part of its 24/7 clean energy efforts.
The Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) inclusion of a separate credit for energy storage will help more companies develop energy storage projects in the coming years.
we just started
As companies aim higher at their sustainability goals and seek to build a carbon-free energy future, they are increasingly turning to solar power and storage to meet their needs. SEIA estimates that commercial solar installations will double again over the next three years and will be further affected by the IRA.
With 27 GW of corporate solar under development or construction, projects with commercial buyers now account for a third of the total contracted solar portfolio.
One thing’s for sure: Corporate adoption of solar power isn’t slowing down any time soon.
Here are the sustainability goals and targets for the top 25 commercial solar users as of November 29, 2022:
- Target: To achieve net zero emissions across its value chain by 2030 (announced for 2021). Achieved 100% renewable energy in 2020.
- Amazon: Achieve 100% power operation with renewable energy by 2025 (announced April 2022).
- Apple: Achieve 100% carbon neutrality for supply chain and products by 2030 (announced July 2020). Achieved 100% clean energy in 2018.
- Walmart: Electric facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035. Achieve net zero emissions across all global operations by 2040 (announced in September 2020).
- Microsoft: Achieve a negative carbon footprint by 2030. Achieve 100% renewable energy for its operation by 2025 (announced in Jan 2020).
- Target: 100% renewable energy for its operation by 2030 (announced in 2019). Reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions (indirect greenhouse gas emissions) by 50% by 2030.
- Cargill: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 10% by 2025 and emissions from the extended supply chain by 30% per ton of product by 2030.
- Kaiser Permanente: Achieving “net carbon positive” by 2025, reducing water use per square foot of buildings by 25%. Achieving 100% carbon neutrality by 2020.
- Anheuser-Busch: Get 100% Renewable Electricity and Reduce CO Emissions2 Up to 25% across the value chain by 2025. Achieving net zero emissions by 2040.
- Average North America: Reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and use 75% of the methane emitted by coal mining in degassing processes by 2030.
- Digital Realty: Reduce Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 68% per square foot and Scope 3 emissions by 24% per square foot by 2030.
- Switch: Reduce total waste by 30% by 2030. Achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2021.
- Prologis – Achieve 100% carbon neutral construction, install 1 GW of solar power on buildings, and reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gases by 21% by 2025.
- Starbucks: Halve its carbon, water and waste footprint by 2030.
- Google: Achieve net zero emissions across all its operations and value chain by 2030.
- Allianz: Achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
- Intel: Achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
- Home Depot: Get 100% renewable energy by 2030.
- Fifth Third Bank: Achieve a 10-year environmental and social finance target of $100 billion by 2030.
- T-Mobile: Already committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2021 and has reduced Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2021.
- DeVita: Reduce carbon emissions by 50% and go 100% renewable energy by 2025.
- Lineage Logistics: Achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
- L3Harris Technologies: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, reduce water use by 20%, and achieve 75% solid waste diversion by 2030.
- Solvay: Reduce global Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, as well as achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Corning: Reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2028 and reduce relevant Scope 3 emissions by 17.5% by 2028.
image: Commercial solar project for Duke Realty in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Solar Landscape.