Greater renewable energy supply options are needed if cities and companies are to meet their clean energy goals. WRI is helping accelerate demand for renewable energy through new coalitions, such as supporting the city of Cincinnati on a deal for the largest municipal solar array in the U.S. and helping companies in China and Mexico set examples for their peers.

The Challenge

Cities and companies have a vital role in tackling climate change and many are setting clean energy goals. Delivering on these goals, however, can be complicated. In the U.S., cities struggle to access large-scale renewable energy, and outside the U.S. and Europe, large buyers also face challenges contracting for renewable energy. Even with energy market reforms or new incentives, buyers face barriers in navigating regulations, evaluating options and conducting procurement processes. For sectors like retail with dispersed operations, this can be even more complex.

WRI’s Role

To help cities meet their clean energy goals, WRI, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network launched the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator in 2019. The Renewables Accelerator supports dozens of cities in deploying onsite renewables and procuring large-scale renewables, including through guidance on city-utility partnership agreements. WRI has provided sustained technical support in several cities, including Cincinnati.

To help companies face the renewable energy challenge and drawing on the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance that WRI helped set up in the U.S., in 2017 WRI China and nine partners established the Green Electricity Consumption Cooperation Organization (GECCO), a coalition of 58 companies that provides capacity-building and facilitates knowledge-sharing. WRI China has supported GECCO members and other companies through a handbook on corporate renewable energy procurement in China, a synthesis of good practices and lessons learned from the U.S., and training and technical advice to pioneer companies including the brewer Budweiser China.

With Allotrope Partners and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, WRI also established the Clean Energy Investment Accelerator (CEIA) in 2016 to develop and demonstrate innovative purchasing models in emerging markets. WRI Mexico and the CEIA provided technical support to a large retailer to aggregate procurement of clean energy for its stores across Mexico, designing and conducting a request for proposals, evaluating bids and assessing associated risks. The CEIA and partners followed this with a guidebook for other companies in Mexico.

The Outcome

Leading cities and companies are building momentum on clean energy procurement and showing it makes economic sense. In the U.S., Cincinnati signed a 100-megawatt power purchase agreement – enough to power 25,000 homes – to construct the country’s largest municipal solar array, which will provide clean energy to all city facilities and also serve residents. WRI is now helping finalize power purchase agreements in other U.S. cities.

In China, Budweiser China implemented on-site solar projects with a total installed capacity of 23 megawatts. In Mexico, the large retailer signed a letter of intent to procure 100% clean energy for its 75 stores, which it projects will reduce its energy costs by 30% and will surpass its emissions reduction target under the Science Based Targets initiative. With a growing number of examples like these, peers can learn from them to pursue their own clean energy goals.