By - Jim Vess

Corporations continue to buy solar energy with Apple and Amazon leading the way

Energize Weekly, August 7, 2019

Corporate solar acquisitions had a near-record-breaking year in 2018 led by Apple and Amazon, according to industry trade group Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

In all, 1,144 megawatts (MW) were installed, the second highest year after 2017. The figure includes projects owned by companies and offsite facilities that were owned by companies or from which they contracted for electricity.

“Growth in corporate solar demand has been led primarily by declining prices, which have fallen by 63 percent over the last decade,” according to the SEIA annual survey of corporate solar.

The price for photovoltaic solar reached about $4.50 a watt in 2018. The SEIA calculated that the Trump administration’s tariff on imported solar panels added about 12 to 13 cents a watt to the price.

The survey said that more than half of all corporate solar capacity has been installed in the last three years – more than 7 gigawatts (GW) across 35,000 installations.

In the last 18 months alone, there have been 4 GW of new offsite corporate projects.

Apple continued to hold the top spot, accounting for 130 MW of newly installed capacity in California in 2018. Apple has a total of 393 MW of solar capacity.

Amazon moved into second place in overall capacity at 336 MW, adding 36 MW in 2018.

Rounding out the top five are Target with a total of 242 MW, Walmart with 209 MW and data center builder Switch, which acquired 172 MW of solar in Nevada.

Target remained number one in onsite solar installations with 230 MW. Walmart was second for onsite installation with more than 150 MW.

After Amazon, the companies with the biggest acquisitions of solar power in 2018 were chemical maker Solvay and Fifth Third Bank, each adding about 80 MW.

IKEA had, for the third straight year, the highest percentage of facilities with solar – 90 percent. In second place was the cosmetic maker L’Oréal, which has solar installations at 16 of its 22 U.S. locations.

“California continues to lead the nation for commercial solar due to a supportive policy environment and an excellent solar resource, resulting in a diverse mix of smaller onsite and larger offsite projects,” the survey said.

“New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts have consistently been near the front of the pack for commercial solar, with solid state-level policy and high building density resulting in many smaller rooftop systems,” according to SEIA.

There are 2,928 MW of corporate installations in California, followed by 995 MW in New Jersey, 617 MW in New York and 584 MW in Massachusetts.

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