While corporate renewable energy procurement is on the rise, the overall number of companies involved is still relatively low, with just over 100 unique companies participating in the U.S. renewable energy market since 2008, according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Deal Tracker. Some of the challenges to accessing renewable energy experienced by smaller companies include a lack of size needed to approach the market individually, insufficient education on the specific mechanics of renewable energy transactions and guidance on how to secure renewable energy.
Walmart Inc. and Schneider Electric are collaborating to change that and increase access to renewable energy for Walmart’s US-based suppliers. The Gigaton PPA Program is designed to educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy purchases and accelerate renewable energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements.
“The Gigaton PPA Program is the kind of innovation-in-action needed to help our suppliers take the next step towards low-carbon emissions, helping to build a more sustainable future for our communities,” said Zach Freeze, Senior Director, Sustainability at Walmart. “Through Schneider Electric’s work with our suppliers, the program aims to democratize access to renewable energy, and accelerate its use with our supplier base.”
The GPPA program works by educating participants on the renewable energy market, providing guidance on the projects, and bringing together interested companies to contract for renewable energy as a cohort, leveraging the size of the group to achieve an economy of scale. Walmart will serve as the convening champion for the program, inviting suppliers to join.
The company has collaborated with Schneider Electric’s Energy & Sustainability Services to run the GPPA Program, utilizing Schneider Electric’s NEO Network, a global collaboration platform and community of more than 300 corporate renewable energy purchasers and solution providers. Schneider Electric’s team of leading renewable energy experts will engage participating Walmart suppliers and facilitate a multi-phase education and project selection process to advance supplier progress towards the execution of aggregated renewable energy purchases.
“It is our honor to work with Walmart on this revolutionary program,” said Steve Wilhite, Senior Vice President, Schneider Electric. “The company is demonstrating significant leadership by increasing access to utility-scale renewable energy opportunities for their suppliers as part of the Project Gigaton ambition. The GPPA program aims to bring a significant amount of new wind and solar to the grid at a time when climate action is most urgent.”
The program directly supports Walmart’s Project Gigaton, which aims to avoid one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from Walmart’s global value chain by 2030. To date, more than 2,300 suppliers from 50 countries are participating in Project Gigaton. Suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017 – more than 20% of the goal – through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests, and product use and design.
Walmart has set a goal to be powered 50% by renewable energy by 2025. Currently the company powers an estimated 29% of its operations with renewable energy. Walmart and Schneider Electric are also members of the Renewable Energy Buyer’s Alliance, a coalition that brings together purchasers and suppliers of renewable energy to make the process of transitioning to cleaner energy sources easier.
— Solar Builder magazine