Cutting Edge Companies: We Want Renewables

October 20, 2017

Ignoring Trump and the fossil fuel troglodytes, major companies are all moving in the direction of renewable energy – especially the most dynamic and rapidly growing tech companies that states and cities would like to attract as employers.
But if your state is not moving in the direction of sustainability, you may lose out.

Case in point, the current frenzy of cities vying to be the location of Amazon’s new “second headquarters”, and potentially tens of thousands of well paying jobs.
Jeff Bezos, above, obviously is making the point that the company wants to move on a renewable path.

Example. Here’s the video that Detroit produced, apparently, to grab Jeff Bezos attention.
You’ll notice the pans on wind turbines, (which made me go “hmmm”, as I am not aware of any turbines in metro Detroit – maybe that’s a shot across the river to Canada?) and mention of “autonomous vehicles and alternative energy”.  Big debit for Big D, I understand, is lack of comprehensive mass transit, which is still only getting started in the city, due to the (not) visionary activism of corporate giants of the century past.


A December report by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) found that 71 of the Fortune 100 companies currently have renewable energy or sustainability targets, up from 60 companies just two years ago. Commitments among Fortune 500 companies have held steady over the past two years at 43 percent, or 215 firms.

Of the Fortune 500 companies, AEE reports that 22 have committed to powering all of their operations with renewable energy, including Wal-Mart and General Motors — the CEOs of which have been selected to join President-elect Donald Trump’s business advisory council. A total of 83 companies from around the world have now committed to going 100 percent renewable through the RE100 initiative. Google announced in December that it will meet its renewable energy target in 2017.

“We’re really encouraged by all the progress that we’ve made [on renewable energy procurement], but there’s a lot of work to do,” said Michael Terrell, energy policy lead at Google, in an interview during GreenBiz’s Verge conference last fall. “We need to meet the growing needs of our business and our industry, and also help grow the space more generally.”

Sustainability targets are good news for states. “Companies are deploying their private capital to finance projects that will bring in new jobs and tax revenue while improving the resource diversity of the grid and in some cases decreasing reliance on imported electricity,” according to the AEE paper. “But in many states, there are not clear mechanisms for companies to fulfill their commitment to procure advanced energy.”

In a changing political landscape — with a new Republican administration and Congress that’s hostile to climate action — corporations stand to play a leading role in advocating for low-carbon energy resources at the national level. Trump recently met with leaders at Apple, Facebook and Google, all of which have set a 100 percent renewable energy target. Trump is also being advised by solar and electric-vehicle champion Elon Musk, and has spoken with Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, who recently launched a $1 billion cleantech and climate action fund.

“Sustained and vocal advocacy by corporations that recognize the ecological and economic imperative of an aggressive transition to renewable sources of electricity has never been more important in the United States given the election of Donald Trump, who has promised to roll back climate policies and revive the use of coal,” said Gary Cook, senior analyst at Greenpeace, which released a report today on internet brands leading the renewable energy transition.

But while there’s a lot of focus on the federal government with Trump taking office, much of the real work in rolling out renewable energy projects in the U.S. takes place at the state level. Progressive companies will be instrumental in helping pioneer state policies to help meet their clean energy procurement targets, and set the stage for other companies to follow suit.

“Corporations have already been a big part of the staggering growth we’ve seen in renewables over the past few years. In 2015, corporations purchased over 3 gigawatts of large-scale offsite renewable energy,” Patrick Flynn, director of sustainability at Salesforce, wrote in an email.


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Major U.S. corporations such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N) have become some of America’s biggest buyers of renewable energy, driving growth in an industry seen as key to helping the United States cut carbon emissions.

Last year nearly 40 percent of U.S. wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That’s up from just 5 percent in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association trade group.

These users also accounted for an unprecedented 10% of the market for large-scale solar projects in 2016, figures from research firm GTM Research show. Just two years earlier there were none.

The big reason: lower energy bills.

Costs for solar and wind are plunging thanks to technological advances and increased global production of panels and turbines. Coupled with tax breaks and other incentives, big energy users such as GM are finding renewables to be competitive with, and often cheaper than, conventional sources of electricity.

The automaker has struck deals with two Texas wind farms that will soon provide enough energy to power over a dozen GM facilities, including the U.S. sport utility vehicle assembly plant in Arlington, Texas that produces the Chevrolet Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.

The company is already saving $5 million a year worldwide, according to Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy, and has committed to obtaining 100% of its power from clean sources by 2050.

“It’s been primarily all driven off economics,” Threlkeld said. “Wind and solar costs are coming down so fast that it made it feasible.”

Crain’s Detroit Business:

The Detroit-Windsor bid to host Inc.’s $5 billion, 50,000-worker so-called second headquarters was submitted Thursday morning.

As part of the bid, which has been in the works in the 43 days since the online retail giant released a request for proposal, Dan Gilbert’s team also unveiled a 3 minute-plus video produced showcasing the city and state to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Details of the bid, which was spearheaded by Gilbert, the billionaire founder and chairman of Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC, were not released Thursday morning.

Members of the Detroit region’s 60-member Amazon committee have been tight-lipped all week about what the city would specifically offer Amazon in terms of tax incentives, mass transportation options for employees and filling a talent pool that dwarfs the size of any existing Detroit company (Gilbert’s family of companies employ 17,000 in downtown Detroit).

A group of West Michigan business leaders also submitted a bid Thursday for Grand Rapids to host Amazon. The document remains confidential and won’t be made public, said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place, a Grand Rapids-area economic development organization

“We will not let our competitors know what is in the package,” Klohs told Crain’s. “We hope we make it through the next cut. Certainly if Detroit makes it into the next phase, we’ll be extremely supportive of Detroit.”

Klohs emphasized the collaborative nature of Grand Rapids’ business and political leaders, the robust economic and population growth of West Michigan and a 90,000-student pipeline of talent enrolled in public and private colleges and universities in the Grand Rapids metropolitan area.

“We have a lot of higher education institutions, but because they’re not all concentrated in one institution, people don’t think of us as a college town, but we really are,” Klohs said.



7 Responses to “Cutting Edge Companies: We Want Renewables”

  1. wpNSAlito Says:

    “Big debit for Big D, I understand, is lack of comprehensive mass transit, which is still only getting started in the city, due to the (not) visionary activism of corporate giants of the century past.”

    I can see why the Motor City would ignore–if not actively suppress–public transit. It calls to mind how LA *removed* its trolley system to promote cars (as depicted in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”).

  2. sheilach2 Says:

    Just follow the money, it it wasn’t for subsidies, “renewables” would be dead in the water.
    So far as supporting the grid or our way of life, only their source of energy, the sun, falling water or wind is renewable. those OIL DEPENDENT high tech devices are not.

    There are many viable uses for solar & wind energy, watches, radios, small energy systems like homes, small low energy usage businesses, emergency phones along roads, any application where constant, reliable electricity is not essential but if your on a breathing machine, are in a hospital, have a refinery, smelter, or any business that needs a constant, high flow of reliable electricity, “renewables” can’t carry that load.

    Companies are investing in “renewables” as they see it as a way to make PROFITS while the age of oil is still functioning, once it’s not, that will be the end of many “renewable” systems as their components cannot be replaced without oil.

    Before that happens, I would like to see more electric transport in those big dirty cities, at least where it’s used, it’s clean, it’s far from clean where they are manufactured usually in China.
    For the masses, the electric transport currently that’s being made is too dam EXPENSIVE, we need smaller, LIGHTER vehicles, without all those expensive electronics that aren’t needed, not necessarily a car, what about electric assisted, enclosed trikes?
    Far more of those could be built, more people could afford them, they take up less space, use fewer limited raw materials, we need to stop just building expensive electric cars for the RICH!
    Too many people are ignorant of the limitations of “renewable” technology, they are tied to fossil resources, they would not exist without them, they cannot keep BAU functioning, as oil declines, our civilization will collapse, when? who knows, the oil extractors keep their reserves unknown to outsiders, we will know when demand exceeds supply & with so many fields in decline world wild, it won’t be very long before shortages appear, some say as soon as 2018 but no one actually knows.
    Prepare now for fuel shortages, resource shortages even food shortages, what is not sustainable, will not be sustained & our way of life is not sustainable.

  3. gallopingcamel Says:

    Don’t worry! The fossil fuel reserves are rising much faster than the growth in consumption.

    We still have not reached “Peak Oil” yet frakking gas is booming.

    When we reach “Peak Frakking Gas” we will have huge reserves of methane clathrates.

    When we reach “Peak Methane Clathrates” we will have huge reserves of uranium and thorium that will last at least 300,000 years.

    • sheilach2 Says:

      I do keep an eye on energy news & “reserves” are not “growing” who ever told you that was LYING.
      Yes, fossil fuels are the past, their going away but current “renewables” cannot fill the huge gap in RESOURCES the decline of FF will leave.
      Need I keep reminding people here that “renewables” produce NONE of the ESSENTIAL RAW MATERIALS WE MUST HAVE to support our population & our high energy, high consumption way of life? that will soon END!

      Even if those “renewables” could produce electricity 24/7 which they cannot, we would still collapse because we won’t be able to FEED ourselves or have the essential raw materials needed for todays modern manufacturing & agriculture.

      I am far from “vegetating” in fossil fuels, I’m not so misinformed as to believe that FF reserves are “growing” what a load of crap that is, their in DECLINE.

      They might increase again if the price of OIL increases to over $70. a barrel, that would make the more difficult, expensive oil available again, right now, the frackers are losing money, that’s also why those reserves are in decline, their not drilling & fracking as much as they did & the rig count is down so much tight oil has been removed from the reserves.

      Fracking companies are not so stupid as to keep losing money when their product is selling for less than it costs to produce it. The problem is that the “consumer” can’t afford higher cost oil, they are forced to use less so the price dropped.

      That’s the bind we are in now, oil extractors need a higher price for their oil or they lose money but consumers can’t afford it.
      Your precious “renewables” would not even exist if it wasn’t for the ENERGY & RAW MATERIALS found in fossil resources & when their gone, so will be those “renewables”. Only their source of energy is renewable, those devices are not.

    • sheilach2 Says:

      How much stock do you have in “renewables”? You will lose your investment because those “renewables” wouldn’t exist without OIL & oil is on it’s way out & there is no way that OIL DEPENDENT “renewables” can replace it & why do I have to keep reminding you that “renewables” produce NONE of the ESSENTIAL raw materials we must have to produce those “renewables”, our food, our transportation system or anything else we manufacture now using FF.

      There isn’t enough raw materials to produce enough “renewables” & their batteries to replace more than a fraction of the electricity we now use. “Renewables” like the OIL their made from are TEMPORARY!

      Fracked oil is also on it’s way out, conventional oil peaked in 2005, fracked oil has peaked & is in decline.
      Perhaps this piece in Forbes will get you up to date.

      You, like so many others fooled by the hype over “renewables” will have to find out the hard way that “renewables” cannot replace oil, cannot support the grid without fossil fuel backup power & “renewables” produce none of the essential raw materials we must have for most of us to survive.
      We still cannot eat electricity.

  4. redskylite Says:

    We have a whole new generation that appreciates the need to eliminate carbon pollution, studying, experimenting and advancing with the newer technologies.

    Advances are being made to do what mankind must do, and withing the short window he has to do it. Thus hopefully avoiding the need to desperately try experimental and dangerous geoengineering to stop the roaring juggernaut of climate change.

    Forget buried fossils they are the past. Well past. It’s a new world.

    “Solar can be designed to run only after dark at a competitive price with a current natural gas peaker plant.

    Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) can be a night-only dispatchable (D-CSP) plant; with its entire solar energy absorbed by day to be delivered after dark to cover the evening peak load on the grid, according to a study funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE). The finding is timely. California’s Governor has just signed a bill that outlaws fossil-fueled peaker plants.”

  5. redskylite Says:

    There is so much going on in the advance of renewable energy. Read the energy news, keep abreast. Don’t vegetate with fossils. Move on.

    and quickly.

    A Microsoft data centre in Seattle, US is to run its servers on a fuel cell power system from Germany’s Solidpower.

    Ten fuel cell generators are in the process of being installed above each server rack at the data centre, generating 24/7 power directly at the rack, Solidpower said.

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