U.S. companies could have a great year for renewable energy purchases in 2019 and still fall short of the 2018 record.
One reason is that there is no precedent for the scale of Facebook’s purchases last year, and it is not clear if any company will step up to play that kind of role this year. Facebook signed contracts for more than 2 gigawatts of renewable energy worldwide last year.
Kyle Harrison, an analyst for BloombergNEF, told me, “It’s not impossible, but it’s going to be difficult” for the U.S. have another record-setter this year.
Chances may be better that the world will set a new record in 2019 because of growth outside of the United States, while purchases in the U.S. would be flat or slightly down. BloombergNEF does not have an official forecast for corporate renewables, so Harrison was speaking about market trends rather than numbers.
One factor helping the U.S. market this year is that companies want to sign deals ahead of the phaseout of federal tax credits. This is one reason that Higgins does not anticipate the kind of drop-off that happened after the last big surge, in 2015.
The larger point for the clean energy economy is that companies are driving demand for wind and solar to an extent that is moving the market at a level that rivals the purchases tied to government policies.
And, as BloombergNEF has tracked, companies have a long way to go to meet their targets, which means there is substantial room for growth in corporate renewables over the next decade.