To meet their sustainability targets, companies need to join efforts to jump-start a new era of transmission planning.
Chalk up another record for renewables, this time in the United States. Local companies there added nearly 4 GW of utility-scale wind and solar capacity by August this year. In so doing, the companies have broken the former annual record, from 2015, by an extra 750 MW.
On the downside, however, local transmission infrastructure remains insufficient to handle significant increases to clean energy needs, according to a new report by the Wind Solar Alliance (WSA).
“Companies buying affordable clean energy today are benefiting from yesterday’s transmission plans,” said John Kostyack, WSA’s executive director. “To meet their sustainability targets for the next decade, and to make low-cost renewable power accessible for themselves and other customers, they need to join efforts to jump-start a new era of transmission planning.”
More than 100 large U.S.-based corporate entities that belong to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance have announced a target of purchasing 60 GW of new locally produced renewable energy capacity by 2025. Yet to that end, the companies have procured only 13 GW of renewable power in the past five years. To ensure that targets are met faster, major buyers of renewable energy can follow the example of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, by joining regional transmission organizations (RTOs), the report’s authors say.
Walmart is seeking to have all its energy needs met through renewables and other major renewable energy users in the States are planning to follow suit. To transition faster to renewable sources of power, produced largely by wind and solar energy, these companies could speed things up by assisting in the planning of new grids for renewables. They could help build new transmission lines or else pay a green utility tariff, proceeds from which could be used to construct new grids in certain areas.
“Incorporating corporate renewable energy demand into transmission planning will become increasingly important as more companies act on their goals,” Hannah Hunt, deputy director for electricity policy and demand at the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement. “Engaging large buyers of renewable energy with transmission planners will be an efficient way to ensure they get the information they need to plan for the future.”