Companies Lead Clean Energy Efforts

As Apple transitions into the solar industry, and Amazon signs a deal with its utility to work more directly together to achieve its renewable energy goals, it’s time to acknowledge that this is the beginning of a new era for energy: innovative corporate action toward mainstreaming clean energy.

For Alchemus Prime, this is a very affirming shift, as we are busy building partnerships that will leverage and aggregate energy efficiency practices, bleeding-edge renewable technologies, and rigorous behavioral sciences into a suite of services that will help our clients achieve their clean energy goals, and much more in the realms of productivity, water, waste, and wellness. Stay tuned for more on this as we continue the development of our strategic alliances.

I’ve summarized some of the juicier implications of this budding trend toward more corporate leadership in carbon-free energy:

  • If large companies like Apple (but also Tesla and SolarCity) begin to participate directly in the clean energy market, what does this mean for utilities? In the case of Amazon, its utility is still involved, but SolarCity is starting to behave a bit like a utility, indicating that corporations are experimenting with becoming clean energy providers for themselves and potentially for other customers as well in the future.
  • Aggregating small energy loads, and providing clean energy access to many customers is a holy grail of the clean energy future, and Apple seems well poised to tap into that, with other companies sure to follow if Apple succeeds.
  • When companies manage their own energy supply, they can link their rates to their energy usage, which means a more important and explicit role for behavior change in keeping costs down, since how much energy we use (a behavior) will have a direct impact on our bill (feedback).
  • As companies produce and consume their own clean energy, they have opportunities to reduce market risks and greenhouse gas emissions in their regions.
  • This shift shows large companies are moving beyond greenwashing and lip service to actually working on achieving their renewable energy goals. The Amazon example is commendable, according to American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) President and CEO Gregory Wetstone, via GreenBiz:

“Amazon, an active member of ACORE’s U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF), pledged in 2014 to go 100 percent renewable. Today it is making that pledge real by developing and integrating large amounts of renewable power onto the grid. This agreement gives flexibility to utilities to do their job in maintaining the grid, while also emphasizing the benefits of carbon-free energy and removing barriers to going 100 percent renewable. Amazon and Dominion are at the leading edge of clean energy development and together they are proving the economic and environmental value of corporate investment in renewables.”

 

According to the New York Times, the possible merger of Tesla and SolarCity is another strong example of this trend:

“This is an effort to build the Apple of clean energy,” said Daniel M. Kammen, the director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. “That really is part of the new wave of companies that could make this decarbonization addressing climate change really work.”

My late mentor and advisor Steve Schneider always said that in order to address the climate crisis, we must “do well by doing good.” Steve was a strong proponent of partnerships that leverage innovation to help empower private and public sectors in the fight against climate change. As smart companies discover that doing what is good for the climate and planet is overall better for business and for people, they are beginning to drive this innovation. Another win-win! For Alchemus Prime, we are joyfully witnessing and participating in the fulfillment of our mission: demonstrating that it is good business to sustain nature.

 

As Apple and Amazon pave the way for more independent and collaborative corporate clean energy production, supply, and use, everyone could benefit.

Apple and Amazon pave the way for more independent and collaborative corporate clean energy production, supply, and use, signaling a shift toward more corporate leadership in achieving renewable energy goals.

 

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