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GLOBALOUTLOOK RENEWABLES


THE PAST DECADE


WINDANDSOLAR BECOMEAMORECOST-EFFECTIVE OPTION THE PRICE OF UTILITY PV AND UTILITY WIND ENERGY HAS FALLEN OVER


Padberg says. National and regional govern-


ments have taken note of this push towards 24/7 matching, opening up the sector to innovation. Buried in its $2tn infrastructure


plan, Joe Biden’s US administration has also said it wants to purchase 24/7 renewables for government buildings to “drive clean energy deployment across the market”.


Source: Rystad Energy Renewables Cube


basis, the way this is monitored and certified means that they can fudge their carbon consumption by way of green certificates. InMay, utility AES signed an


agreement to supply the electricity to power Google’s Virginia-based data centres with24/7 carbon-free energy under a 10-year contract. AES will source energy from a portfolio of wind, solar, hydro and battery storage. “The story here is that big tech


companies are leading trends in cor- porates’ consumptionof renewables that then trickle downto the rest of industry,” says Toby Ferenczi, founder of non-profit initiative EnergyTag. A coalition of more than 100


supporting organisations, includ- ingMicrosoft, Google, Iberdrola and Orsted, EnergyTag looks to develop a mechanism to “tag” elec- tricity with the time and source of production so consumers can match their consumption with clean energy, hour by hour.


Frontrunners “I truly believe that this is the future trend and these big tech companies are frontrunners,” says Julia Padberg, principal at SET Ventures, a clean energy venture capital firm. SET Ventures is the lead investor


CORPORATES ARE DRIVING DEMANDANDSENDING AMESSAGE TO THE ENERGY INDUSTRY THAT THE GRID NEEDS TOCHANGE


40


in FlexiDAO, a software start-up focusedonhourly energy certification and fellowsupporter of EnergyTag, which counts Acciona, Total and Iberdrolaamongits customers. “Where a lot of other corporates


are just buying cheap certificates fromsomewhere else, these big tech companies are actually the only ones that are truly consuming green energy that they have gener- ated or acquired in real-time,” Ms


Pure sustainability There are clear economic incentives to buying clean energy now, many argue. “Make no mistake, [big tech’s] clean energy strategy has helped themto drive downtheir power costs,” says Gero Farruggio, head of Australia and global renewables at Rystad Energy. “It’s very much a com- mercial [venture]. If you were to develop any energy generation, solar would be the cheapest.” He adds, however, that “while


many companies have decided to adopt the energy transition today— and it is certainly very popular—[big tech was] very much ahead of the game” in procuring clean energy. There is nonetheless a different


sentiment among big tech firms, as compared with other companies kickstarting their energy transition, he says, comparing themto big oil firms that have started to develop renewable capacity. “Fundamentally, big oil sees


renewables as part of their journey, whereas big tech sees it as their des- tination,” he says, citing the for- mer’s efforts to wean themselves off fossil fuels versus the latter’s moon- shot targets. Given the precedent of falling


costs for renewables, big tech looks unlikely to losemomentum. When Google entered into its first renewa- ble CPPA in 2010 in Iowa, it was not the cheapest power in the industry, Ms Peterson Corio points out. “Part of the reasonwhy we’re


doingwhat we’re doing is to enable that downward cost curve,” she explains. “If you show demand, you’ll havemore supply and you’ll get cheaper energy.” MsPeterson Corio hopes this is


whatwillhappenin the next phase of the energy transition,whether that is driving the costs downof hydrogenor decarbonising grids locally. “We’re doing a lot, but it’s a big


problem. And it’s going to takemore than just Google or other tech com- panies to [solve this],” she says.■


www.fDiIntelligence.com August/September 2021


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