Assessing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) from a Corporate Buyer Perspective

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Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have emerged as a transformative mechanism driving corporate sustainability efforts across the United States. Between 2017 and 2021 alone, global demand for PPAs has grown nearly 400%, with North America leading the charge. These contracts involve an agreement between an electricity producer, often a renewable energy site, and a consumer, usually a major corporation. 

Through PPAs, companies can procure electricity at a fixed rate, often lower than conventional fossil fuel sources. This predictable pricing, commonly spanning 10-20 years, offers a significant cost advantage, potentially reducing operational expenses and enhancing financial predictability, crucial for long-term budget planning. 

Volatile energy prices and potential supply disruptions are mitigated through the stable and predictable energy supply ensured by PPAs. This risk mitigation strategy bolsters operational resilience, shielding businesses from market fluctuations and ensuring a consistent energy supply critical for uninterrupted operations. 

PPAs provide businesses the advantage of earning recognition for substituting conventional electricity with renewable alternatives, effectively curbing their Scope 2 emissions—an immense benefit, especially in cases where Scope 2 emissions constitute a significant portion of their overall emissions. Additionally, PPAs offer remarkable flexibility, allowing for customized contracts aligned with the specific requirements of the business. This tailoring encompasses aspects like contract duration, energy volume procurement, and the selection of renewable energy sources. Consequently, businesses gain the liberty to opt for energy procurement from diverse sources, including wind, solar, or hydroelectric power, based on what best suits their operational necessities. 

Global decarbonization is an 'incremental' journey. While we work towards our net-zero goals, the pursuit of perfect solutions continues. It's crucial for us to collaborate and utilize the tools available until we find more comprehensive solutions. 

WHITE PAPER: recent trends in the renewable electricity markets


PPAs are great for the sustainability movement but are they great for your company’s sustainability plan? 

In the corporate landscape, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have emerged as transformative strategies for sustainable electricity solutions. They particularly favor large tech corporations with substantial electricity demands, exceeding typical industry requirements. These entities find PPAs advantageous due to their ability to secure long-term, stable energy prices, essential for sustaining expansive operations. Contributors at the Financial Times recently highlighted the extensive power needs of tech giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple, surpassing that of entire regions like Hong Kong. They noted that these demands are expected to escalate with the increasing reliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning, intensifying computing power requirements. 

However, for many other companies considering PPAs, alignment with their operational and financial strategies might pose challenges. Evaluating risk tolerance and expected returns on investment becomes crucial before committing to these agreements. Furthermore, project developers are grappling with meeting escalating demands, driving some projects to seek full-volume off-take arrangements. This shift presents hurdles for smaller companies lacking substantial energy needs or budgetary capabilities, making PPAs less viable. Financially, the complexities and limitations inherent in PPAs may render them impractical for many companies. 

Consequently, in the current market landscape, the practicality for PPAs leans heavily towards energy-intensive giants, creating a challenge for a broader spectrum of companies with more modest energy needs and financial capabilities. This selectiveness underscores that PPAs are primarily strategic moves tailored for corporations with immense electricity demands and substantial financial resources. 

Compare available renewable electricity solutions or get in touch with one of our market experts to see which might be the best fit for your organization.  

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