Cross-border PPAs: New opportunities for business to decarbonise their electricity supply across Europe

Geneva, 7 December 2020: Today, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released a new report to help companies increase their renewable electricity procurement in Europe using cross-border power purchase agreements (PPAs).​

In a cross-border PPA, a company purchases renewable electricity generated outside the electricity market of their electricity load, via a corporate renewable PPA. This means that renewable electricity can be generated in locations in Europe where it can be produced most efficiently: offering greater flexibility for companies procuring and selling renewable electricity alike.

The report presents how cross-border PPAs enable companies procuring renewable electricity to:

  • Overcome regulatory barriers in the markets where their facilities are located
  • Choose projects with the most favorable terms irrespective of their location and/or use a multi-technology approach in multiple geographies
  • Aggregate electricity demand in several markets and streamline electricity and renewable energy certificate sourcing.

As well as providing efficiency and flexibility benefits, cross-border PPAs inherently introduce new risks into the PPA compared to typical in-market PPA structures. The report outlines how companies can carefully evaluate and manage these risks. It provides detail on basis risk, market boundary guidance to help companies report renewable electricity consumption and the importance of implementing a thorough and robust due diligence process.

The objective of this report is to help companies understand the technicalities of cross-border PPAs by providing a balanced view of the risks and opportunities that the cross-border PPA structure can provide.

As renewable electricity markets in Europe continue to grow and mature, more and more companies may favor the cross-border PPA model for its benefits. With a supportive enabling environment, cross-border PPAs have the potential to substantially grow renewable electricity deployment in Europe.

This report has been produced in collaboration with the RE-Source Platform, of which WBCSD is a founding organization. It builds on previous reports on corporate PPAs including Corporate Renewable Power Purchase Agreements: Scaling up globally (26 October 2016) and Innovation in Power Purchase Agreement Structures (27 March 2018) and How multi-technology PPAs could help companies reduce risk (7 March 2019).

These reports cover the opportunities that corporate PPAs offer, the obstacles that corporate buyers and developers face as they plan and negotiate PPAs, as well as innovations in corporate PPAs as the market grows and evolves.

Mariana Heinrich, Director, Energy at WBCSD said: “The first cross-border PPAs have already been signed in Europe and are helping companies to meet their renewable electricity targets across Europe. We hope this report will help companies understand how they can source more renewable power through cross-border PPAs by carefully evaluating and managing both the benefits and risks that this structure provides.”

Malgosia Bartosik, Coordinator of the RE-Source Platform, said: “We anticipate a record year for PPA announcements in Europe, with more than 3,000 MW already announced in 2020. Cross-border PPAs have contributed to this recent growth, providing a flexible solution to companies and supporting build-out of renewable energy in locations where generation potential is highest. We expect cross-border PPAs to become an indispensable tool in the corporate sourcing toolkit, unlocking further growth in the future”.

Sim van der Linde, Project Director Renewable Energy at Royal DSM, said: “By choosing a cross-border PPA to source renewable electricity, we were able to combine our electricity load across several markets with different characteristics and contribute to the development of additional solar and wind capacity. This approach has enabled us to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of our operations in Europe and put us on track to achieving our ambitious 75% purchased renewable electricity target ahead of schedule. We recommend this report as an important resource to help companies understand and seize the decarbonization opportunities offered by cross-border PPAs.”

Simon Braaksma, Senior Director Group Sustainability at Philips, said: “In 2015, Philips committed to becoming carbon neutral in its operations by 2020. Next, we stepped-up our commitment to reduce our full value chain emissions in line with a 1.5 degrees global warming scenario, and had these targets approved by the Science Based Target initiative. Renewables are a vital element of our roadmap to deliver on these targets, including cross-border PPAs. The cooperation with WBCSD has been a very important enabler to identify the cross-border opportunities and close our transactions.”

Read the full report here

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