According to Wood Mackenzie and the American Wind Association AWEA, solar energy will far surpass wind energy to become the main source of renewable energy for U.S. companies betting on a clean energy supply until 2030.
In a report released last week, both organizations said a combination of political and economic factors could cause Fortune 1000 companies to achieve a clean energy supply of 85 GW in the next decade, far surpassing the record annual purchases of 6 GW in 2018.
Along with lower costs and incentives, such as investment tax credits (ITCs), the “failure” of U.S. federal policy, including Donald Trump’s move to eliminate the Clean Energy Plan of his predecessor Barack Obama, has galvanized the companies’ solar and wind agendas, according to the analysis.
According to the report, the 3.9 GW of corporate wind energy purchases expected in 2019 will continue to exceed the 1.3 GW of solar energy. However, according to the document, solar energy could advance in 2021 and open a significant gap until 2030, reaching annual purchases of between 6.6 GW and 12.54 GW compared to wind purchases of less than 2 GW.
Wind, the analysis says, could be hampered by the sometimes worse adjustment between its daytime patterns and peak power demands. Energy storage could help offset wind’s “boom and bust” cycles, but currently the investment tax credit favours access to solar energy, with smaller sizes and a more predictable generation profile, the study adds.
According to Wood Mackenzie and AWEA, the likely leadership of solar does not mean that its favorite position in the corporate PPA market will be free of challenges. The industry may have resisted the module tariffs to date, but it could be “tested”, and lose market share, if these policies are maintained and ITC’s planned phase-out runs its course, both organizations say.
The report recognizes the various barriers to long-term PPS in the United States. Legislative moves towards disincentive schemes are a key challenge, as is the lack of standardized contracts capable of reducing the significant costs of PPPs.
Electricity companies’ green tariffs – the document points out – could be an ally for smaller corporate buyers forced to accept less attractive PPP terms to reflect their higher credit risks. In any case, the trend is a growing interest on the part of electricity companies in solar energy with storage.