1. Renewed focus on climate justice and access to clean energy:
While we started to see terms like climate justice seep into mainstream environmental circles as questions of equity grappled the country in the summer of 2020, in 2021 we will see more concerted efforts to address equity in both the representation of clean energy leaders, as evidenced by programs like ACORE’s Accelerate, as well in the representation of communities that have not experienced the clean energy revolution in their parts of the country, as showcased by Groundswell’s Working Wisdom Listening Tour.
2. Increased corporate engagement beyond the big players:
Over the past decade, major tech companies have been dominating the news for their record-breaking renewable energy procurement deals. However, as the climate crisis continues to threaten the way every company does business, the need to decarbonize the electricity grid will have companies of all sizes asking how they too can play a role in developing new renewable energy projects. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen smaller companies embrace aggregated PPA structures and in 2021 we will continue to see entrepreneurs innovate beyond the PPA with new capital stack structures to finance more renewable energy projects.
3. Growing role of carbon emission in renewable energy development and procurement:
Although renewable energy procurement and carbon emissions have been very loosely tied in the past with unbundled RECs dominating the clean energy market, a growing emphasis on carbon reduction goals has started to make concepts like WattTime’s ‘Emissionality’ a critical component of corporate clean energy procurement. With the help of important technology like the Climate TRACE project, it will be easier for clean energy developers and buyers to measure and monitor the carbon reduction impact of their investments. The concern around carbon emissions will also continue to extend to the development of solar projects, with program’s like Silicon Ranch’s Regenerative Energy leading the way on better land management practices in utility scale solar projects that sequester more carbon, as well as First Solar’s efforts to recycle their old solar panels.
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