Corporate Investment in Clean Energy

Many individuals, particularly those on the left, decry that corporations pose threats to the public and progress. In countless instances, the opposite has proven true.

Recent surges in clean energy production and use are largely attributable to corporate investments. While fossil fuels still account for the majority of American energy use, these investments are bridging the gap and paving the way to a sustainable future.

Wells Fargo recently announced that it would commit $200 billion to support businesses and projects that emphasize clean energy use and environmental sustainability. The financial services giant also launched an “Innovation Incubator” program that incentivizes entrepreneurs to develop efficient clean energy technologies.  

Anheuser-Busch just set a goal for its vehicles to produce zero carbon emissions by 2025. The brewing company plans to accomplish this by replacing its current fleet with hydrogen-powered and electric vehicles.

Tech giants Google and Apple are now 100 percent powered by renewable energy sources. Both have entered contracts with renewable providers across the country. These long term deals allow corporations to lock in cheaper rates and help finance additional clean energy projects.

These actions, which hardly scratch the surface of corporate clean energy investment, increase the availability and use of alternative sources. More and more corporations are realizing the benefits of going green. Clean energy use will soon be the norm for American corporations as prices fall and consumer pressure for environmental consciousness rises.

Corporations, particularly those in the tech industry, have also begun using their leverage to encourage suppliers to rely on clean energy as well. Widespread use throughout corporate supply chains helps to lower the cost of renewable energy and to propel it to consumer markets.   

These trends prove that a transition to clean energy does not require government involvement. Corporations and market forces are fully capable of directing a smooth shift to a renewable led portfolio. By contrast, when the government picks winners and losers in the energy sector, markets and prices are distorted and the potential for innovation is reduced.

California will soon learn that government involvement in the energy sector produces ineffective results. The state recently mandated that all residential buildings up to three stories high be built with solar panels starting in 2020. While this measure appears environmentally friendly at first glance, it will instead drive up costs for housing and solar panels and limit the ability of competition to foster innovation.

The American Conservation Coalition fully supports a corporate led transition to clean energy reliance. Corporate initiatives, unlike heavy handed government regulations, rely on free market principles of innovation, investment, and consumer choice. A free market energy sector will ensure that the most efficient and reliable sources prevail in a timely manner. Momentum for clean energy is undoubtedly building, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves with aggressive mandates that distort markets and prices. Instead, we should allow corporate and consumer driven innovation and investment to determine the future of our energy sector.

Ronnie Thompson