Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News

U.S. Business Purchase Record Amount of Renewable Energy in 2008

posted by William R. Stott
Published: February 01, 2009

The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) has announced that 2008 saw record voluntary purchases of the organization's Green-e Energy Certified renewable energy. These purchases were led by Intel Corp, PepsiCo, and Mohawk Paper. Intel made the largest purchase of renewable energy in history, with a 1.3 million megawatt-hour (MWh) purchase in January. PepsiCo was the second-biggest purchaser.

The growth in the overall voluntary market for renewable energy has been driven by large commercial purchases of renewable energy certificates (RECs), which represent electricity produced from clean, naturally renewable resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Green power sales increased more than 50% in 2007 over the previous year, with REC sales up 55%, according to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

"Buying renewable energy for nearly 50% of our U.S. operations was an important element of our continuing, multifaceted efforts to support clean energy and the environment, which includes conservation, pilot solar installations and renewable electric supplies" said Marty Sedler, Director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure at Intel. "It is critical that all purchases are certified and validated by a respected, independent certification program like Green-e to ensure the highest quality and integrity of our actions."

The third-party nonprofit certification program Green-e Energy certified 69% of the overall voluntary renewable energy market in 2007, and companies that buy a qualifying amount of certified renewable energy are eligible to join Green-e Marketplace and display the logo. These organizations voluntarily support energy generated from renewable sources, which displace other non-renewable sources from the electric grid. Total purchases by Green-e Marketplace participants exceeded 2.8 million MWh in 2008. Organizations that joined the program in 2008 include Avatar New York, Beaulieu Commercial, Becton Dickinson Infusion Therapy Systems, Inc., Cascades Tissue Group, Hall Street Storage, Intel Corporation, K-1 Packaging Group, Marian Heath Greeting Cards, Millipore Corporation, The Philadelphia Phillies, Solberg Manufacturing, and Unboundary.

"Our purchase of Green-e Certified RECs further advances our commitment to sustainability and helps make a positive impact in the communities we serve across the country," said Maria DeLorenzo, PepsiCo Sustainability Communications. "Our three-year purchase of more than one million MWh annually is the same amount of electricity needed to power nearly 90,000 average American homes annually, as estimated by the U.S. EPA based on national averages. This financial instrument stimulates and supports the development of renewable electricity, and our investment matches the purchased electricity used by all of PepsiCo's U.S.-based manufacturing facilities, headquarters, distribution centers, and regional offices."

The renewable energy market depends on the growing demand from large commercial purchases. NREL reported in the latest edition of its annual Green Power Marketing in the United States, a Status Report that purchases like these account for over half of green power market sales. "Green power purchases by commercial customers are one of the main drivers of growth in this market," said Barry Friedman, co-author of the report.