Billion-dollar corporations are now a driving force for renewable energy globally. Twenty-three companies from the Fortune 100 and Global Fortune 100 have set specific targets — either percentage of energy, capacity (MW) or level of investment — for buying and investing in renewable energy for their own operations.

With the dramatic fall in the cost of solar power over the past five years, commercial and industrial (C&I) solar rooftop has become one of the viable options for these corporations to achieve their renewable energy targets.

Many companies with a history of predominantly purchasing renewable energy certificates or carbon credits have transitioned instead to acquisition and construction of on-site and off-site solar generating assets. Others have preferred to procure renewable power through long term power purchase agreements (PPA) with project owners and/or developers.

The PPA approach eliminates the need for upfront costs and can provide price security and long-term cost savings. It also provides reputation benefits through an association with renewable assets such as rooftop solar.

These are some companies who have set specific targets to include renewable energy and are also active in C&I rooftop solar projects:

Walmart Retail giant Walmart has a long term plan of having 100% renewable energy. Walmart is currently the top US company in terms of total on-site installed solar capacity – with 104 MW of capacity at 348 locations. Walmart prioritised long-term PPAs above other financing models as a way to aggressively build its solar rooftop portfolio.
Apple Apple aims to power its stores with 100% renewable energy. Apple has also been investing in solar power for its data centres in California, Nevada and North Carolina.
Ikea IKEA solar presence atop nearly 90% of its U.S. locations, and a total generation goal of 40 MW as of 2015. IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA – and globally has allocated USD1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy.
GM The American car manufacturer committed to utilizing 125MW of renewable energy by 2020, globally.
In 2011, General Motors Ventures LLC invested in solar power developer Sunlogics. Sunlogics also financed the installation of solar PV at GM facilities through PPAs with GM.
P&G The multinational consumer goods giant pledged to rely on 30% renewable energy by 2020, with 100% as their long term goal. In 2009, it commissioned a 1.1MW PV solar system at P&G’s paper products manufacturing plant in Oxnard, California through a PPA with SunEdison.
Google The search technology giant has pledged to convert to 100% Renewable Energy reliance. Google has made agreements to fund over USD1.5 billion in renewable energy projects such as large-scale wind and rooftop solar.

 

Despite these efforts of large corporations, the commercial rooftop solar market may not have expanded as rapidly as utility or residential installations in the recent past.

As C&I solar PPAs mature in the PV industry and more types of financiers get involved in commercial solar projects, total costs for corporations are expected to drop further paving the way for more commercial solar rooftop installation.