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Sunday, May 3, 2009

WRI and Member Companies Achieve Solar PV Milestone

Early last week I attended the 2009 Corporate Climate and Energy Workshop of the World Resources Institute. The workshop included an announcement of achieving 1000MW of additional green power set by 15 participating companies in the Green Power Market Development Group (GPMDG) in 2000. The target was very aggressive when it was set. 2000 was a year when solar was not a hot topic at all, and a year in which only 75MW of solar PV capacity was added in the US in total – and here were 15 companies saying they alone would add more than that every year over the next ten years. The target was met a year early.

BT Americas, HP, News Corp and others have since joined the 15 original companies that included Alcoa, Dow, Starbucks, GM and Johnson and Johnson amongst their number.

One thing that I am trying to reconcile; BT Americas contribution to the target is our recently completed solar system in El Segundo. It is a 600kW DC system which by my reckoning makes it less than 1/1000th contribution towards the overall achievement. W believe it is one of the five largest urban based systems in Southern CA, but I have not been able to reconcile that apparently large system with it being such a small contribution towards the GPMDG target!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Chris Lau from WRI. The GPMDG team is very excited to have hit the 1000MW target. When we began this journey, green power was nary a blip on corporate radar screens. Today, there is a thriving corporate market for green power.

    As you noted, BT’s tracking solar system contributed a fraction of the 1000MW milestone. However, BT was the first of the Green Power Group companies to undertake a tracking PV design. Multiple other companies have since toured the facility and BT has been a resource for questions on design, energy production, and reliability. Additionally, BT has both hosted and participated in meetings on new business and financing models for clean power. The value of these actions is not fully captured in megawatt numbers.

    Similarly, the GPMDG’s impact extends far beyond 1000MW of green power. The members have pushed the green power markets to mature and to serve the needs of the business community. From green power purchasing, to on-site projects, to policies that are good for business and renewables, the Group has identified models that meet the criteria of business energy users.

    To answer your question about reaching the 1000MW: About half of the goal was reached through green power purchasing programs and about half was reached with on-site projects by the partners. Technologies such as landfill gas and biomass lend themselves to much higher megawatt numbers than solar PV. Thus partners like BT and Staples, who have made substantial investments in solar, are under-represented when you look at pure megawatt contributions.

    It will be interesting to see how quickly solar power systems scale up in terms of power density. It will also be interesting to see what new target WRI sets to push the market and our partners toward the next set of best practices.

    Chris Lau
    Green Power Market Development Group