Decarbonizing the grid beyond the clean energy PPA

Power purchase agreements have enabled companies to address the current and future dangers posed by climate change by matching energy use with renewable energy supplied elsewhere on the grid.

According to a study by RMI, there is a potential to go beyond the PPA in some situations and more efficiently decarbonize the grid through hourly load matching, or 24/7 matching. Hourly load matching, according to RMI, is “where a buyer tries to acquire enough carbon-free energy to match a particular facility’s load every hour.”

Costs increased with the level of hourly load matching compared to costs for meeting annual procurement targets, near-term emissions reductions for hourly load matching depend on the regional grid mix, and hourly procurement strategies can create new markets for emerging technologies, according to the findings of “Clean Power by the Hour.”

“Overall, we find that hourly load-matching methods can help establish the framework for a decarbonized grid in the long run,” the RMI authors said in the paper. “However, they need be carefully tuned to region-specific grid dynamics to also optimize emissions reductions in the near term.” “Buyers who have not yet offset 100 percent of their yearly power usage with purchased (carbon-free energy) may rest certain that doing so based on annual objectives in places where renewable energy adoption is low will continue to produce significant climate benefits. This may be accomplished even as customers who have already achieved that aim continue to push the boundaries of complexity in order to pave the way for a 100 percent C “”Grid E.”

Google, for example, has been carbon-neutral since 2007 thanks to carbon offsets and was one of the first corporations in 2017 to buy renewable energy directly through PPAs. By 2030, the firm plans to shift from 100% yearly renewable energy matching to 24/7 renewable energy matching.

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Instead of yearly, volume-based targets, this move entails concentrating on regional grid requirements and hourly load balancing. On an hourly basis, Google will have attained 67 percent carbon-free energy by 2020.

During a webinar with the Northeast Clean Energy Council and RMI on Tuesday, Devon Swezey, Google’s worldwide energy market development and policy director, said, “The wider objective of our program is to expedite grid decarbonization.” “That is why we incorporate grid carbon-free energy into our process and adjust our procurement to address current grid CFE shortages.”