Solar power purchase agreements lit up 2020

2020 was a record-breaking year for corporate renewable electricity purchasing in Europe. In total, there were nearly 4 gigawatts (GW) of capacity contracted with power purchase agreements (PPAs) across 12 countries.

Read more about it in our 2020 market trends article.

While 2020 was positive for renewable energy sourcing in general, solar power had a particularly good year, capturing approximately 1.7 GW of PPA capacity. That equates to 43% of total PPA capacity, far surpassing 2019’s record share of 29%.

In 2020, Spain led in solar power announcements, with more than 1 GW signed. They were followed by Germany and France.

Read more about Spain and renewable corporate PPAs in 2020.

Companies choosing a sustainable future

Reducing their carbon footprint is not the only reason that businesses choose to purchase renewable electricity. Wind and solar can often be the most economical choice and protect businesses against cost rises seen with other types of electricity sources. We have seen a consistent downward trend in the price of renewables as the technologies and the market have matured. This has been particularly pronounced with solar in recent years and has been accompanied by a corresponding growth in market interest.

In September 2020, French energy company Total announced a partnership with Spanish developer Ignis to develop 3.3 GW of solar projects. When combined with previous agreements with Powertis and Solarbay to develop 2 GW of additional solar capacity, Total now has more than 5 GW of solar projects in the Spanish pipeline.

Recently, Nissan announced their plans to expand the renewable energy generation at their manufacturing plant in Sunderland, UK. The car company is proposing to add a 37,000-panel solar farm extension, capable of producing 20 MW, to the plant’s existing wind turbines and solar farm. If the plans go ahead, 20% of the plant’s electricity would be provided by on-site renewables.

Learn more about on-site renewables: On-site renewable electricity and storage for corporates: business models & policy framework

Alongside solar’s incredible performance in 2020, wind power also enjoyed a fantastic year. Wind power was responsible for the largest share of total PPA capacity in 2020 with more than 2 GW of PPAs announced (52%).

Solar power’s popularity increases across Europe

As well as being an economical energy source, solar power is also popular across Europe. In a 2018 study on European Attitudes to Climate Change and Energy from the European Social Survey, it was found that three-quarters of people surveyed think that a large or very large amount of electricity should be generated from solar power. From the study, we can see that people are firmly in favour of renewable electricity in general, with around two-thirds of those surveyed responding that a large or very large amount of electricity should come from hydro-electric or wind.

As we head towards the EU’s goal of being climate neutral by 2050, we hope to see even more growth in the corporate renewable PPA market – in solar, wind, or any other source of clean energy.

In our video from RE-Source 2020, you can hear from Solnet, about their plans to install solar panels on roofs across Europe and why getting into renewable energy is an inspiring career move.

Want to learn more about on-site renewables? Hear from IKEA and Decathlon about how they added on-site generation and storage to their businesses in our webinar: The buyer’s guide to on-site renewable electricity and storage across Europe.

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