Many large energy buyers have taken steps to account for the carbon emissions caused by their energy usage. But procuring renewable energy only at times when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing—at its cheapest—doesn’t necessarily result in a cleaner electricity system during those periods when sunshine and wind are in short supply. Currently, most customers purchase renewable energy to match their electricity consumption on an annual basis, rather than when they use energy throughout the day. 

Forward-looking energy buyers have begun to embrace 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE) —tracking their energy load temporally, shifting their demand, and purchasing CFE on an hourly basis to match their usage. This helps the grid accommodate more CFE resources and drives demand for clean energy when renewable resources are available.

Some buyers have already committed to 24/7 CFE. Others are actively exploring it. As momentum builds, many questions remain: What goals and targets should buyers set? What strategies can buyers pursue for 24/7 CFE procurement and what portfolio mix can utilities or other suppliers develop to optimally meet their 24/7 energy demands? How can buyers shift their electricity demand to better align with their CFE supply?

WRI is exploring these questions and more by working with buyers and market participants to explore pathways for procuring and matching CFE on an hourly basis to meet their demands. WRI is offering a series of educational webinars on 24/7 CFE for a broad array of market participants, corporate purchasers, utilities, federal agencies, carbon free suppliers, verifiers, data providers, and other stakeholders. These webinars feature content on purchasing approaches, case studies of successful deals, best practices, market instruments, and policies that support 24/7 CFE purchasing. Links to register for upcoming 24/7 CFE webinars or to listen to recording of past webinars can be found here.

WRI has also convened workshops jointly with the Institute for Electric Innovation to encourage dialogue between large corporate buyers and utilities about 24/7 CFE utility solutions. These workshops are designed to understand customer needs and how to scale utility 24/7 offerings for larger groups of customers. 

Additionally, WRI has forged a cohort of local governments interested in pursuing and effectuating 24/7 CFE. Through this cohort, cities are engaging in a facilitated peer-to-peer exchange, building a community of practice around 24/7 CFE procurement, obtaining direct technical assistance from subject-matter experts, and learning about tools for planning and implementing cutting-edge hourly matching strategies. WRI will synthesize results, findings, and best practices from its cohort workshops and activities.

Through this work, WRI is helping to build a community of practice around 24/7 CFE and is illuminating a path for cities and large energy buyers to embrace 24/7 CFE strategies. Ultimately, these efforts will drive greater CFE demand and the smoother integration of CFE resources on local grids.


Cover image credit: Tony Webster, Flickr