Microsoft, Facebook in renewable alliance targeting 60 GW power by 2025

Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp are joining forces with environmental groups to promote the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance in the United State, with plans to develop 60 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025.

At 60 GW annual generating capacity, these new power plants would be enough to replace all coal-fired power plants in the US over the next four years, when their life expires.

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance will help buyers and power utilities to overcome the difficulties normally associated with power supplies to big consumers who are often forces to buy from grid power utilities.

The problem is that larger quantities of grid connected renewable power cannot be sourced from all states while small renewable energy producers cannot sign supply contract with major consumers.

This often deters companies wanting to use renewable energy from efforts to reduce carbon emissions, Microsoft and Facebook said on a conference call on Thursday.

Also, some states have little or no supply of renewable energy, making it even harder for smaller companies also to avail renewable power, Brian Janous, director of sustainability at Microsoft, said.

Janous leads an effort to cut its carbon emissions by 9.5 million metric tonnes that began in 2012.

''Much of the activity so far has been in the form of PPAs and that's an efficient way to secure renewable energy, but it's challenging for small companies,'' Janous said. ''We have a long way to go, and the only way we're going to get there is collaboration. We need utilities to come in as aggregators and provide new opportunities.''

Facebook, Microsoft and more than 60 companies were joined in the effort by Business for Social Responsibility, the World Resources Institute, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

Facebook wants to get half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2018 and eventually meet all of its needs from carbon-free sources, said Bill Weihl, company director of sustainability.

''Access to clean energy is one aspect we look for when we site data centers,'' Weihl said. ''We're working together with utilities and regulators to design new products so we can all buy more clean energy.''

The group will meet at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, next week to share experiences and ideas on how to encourage utilities to let businesses buy more energy from wind turbines and solar panels.

''We know there's an appetite,'' said Letha Tawney, director of utility innovation at the World Resources Institute. ''In some markets there are no options. We're finding that utilities are excited to offer something.''

The 2016 Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance summit will focus on accelerating the fast-­growing market for utility-­scale corporate renewable energy transactions to deploy 60 GW of new corporate renewable energy capacity by 2025.

The two-­day interactive summit is organised by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, made up of BSR's Future of Internet Power, RMI's Business Renewables Center, and WRI and WWF's Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles.

The summit will offer corporate buyers, service providers, developers, financiers, and utilities a chance to join the growing community of to identify opportunities and address key challenges across the industry to accelerate corporate procurement of renewables.