Mark Porter, Manager, Business Renewables Centre, Rocky Mountain Institute will be delivering a session titled “Non-Utility and Corporate Off-Site Renewable Electricity Procurement” at the Solar Canada Conference & Exposition 2017 on Tuesday, December 5 from 1:45 – 2:30 pm.
We recently spoke to Mark about the upcoming conference, his views on the main drivers for the growth of non-utility procurement of renewable energy, and why he is looking forward to attending the event for the first time in a few years.
Please tell us what audience members can expect from your session?
First and foremost, I am hoping to provide the audience with some new perspectives as we discuss the state of the market for non-utility procurement of renewable energy.
To date, it has been mostly corporations that have been undertaking this type of activity in North America. Recently, the Government of Canada has also demonstrated some excellent leadership in this space, announcing plans to power all of their facilities with 100% renewables by 2025.
In this session, I would like to:
- discuss which organizations have been most active in the non-utility procurement of renewable energy, and why;
- outline where some of these deals are getting done;
- present some thoughts for Canadian buyers and developers;
- review some of the key priorities and objectives that buyers bring to the table; and
- dive deeper into some of the transactions that have been undertaken, outlining the size of some of the deals, what levels of engagement we should expect in the future, and where some corporations are looking to go.
I would also like to share some of the lessons learned to date — based on the work that the Rocky Mountain Institute, and specifically the Business Renewables Center of which I am a part — from both buyers and sellers. Some key challenges, risks, and barriers still exist and I plan to walk through these in more detail during my session.
What do you see as the main drivers for the growth of non-utility procurement of renewable energy?
For starters, there is strong interest and significant pent up demand from corporations, universities, schools, hospitals, and municipalities across North America.
In Alberta, which has a deregulated wholesale market, non-utility buyers can negotiate contracts for the procurement of renewable energy. The same market structure applies to large portions of the United States, about roughly 60% of the country, has been deregulated.
In the rest of Canada, however, market regulations require procurement of renewable energy from provincial utilities (except Ontario, where long-term supply is managed by Ontario’s IESO). Even the federal government, which I referenced earlier with their plans to procure renewable energy for some of their facilities, is in the same position as every other buyer outside of Alberta when looking to make these purchases. In Canada, energy is a provincial or territorial matter. With provincial and territorial governments controlling market structure decisions.
That being said, it is not my intent to opine on this topic during my session. Instead, I plan to provide some relevant details for the audience, increase their awareness, then leave them to digest the information and make up their own minds. At the end of the day, the best thing for business is consistent and stable policies, based on clear objectives, accompanied by a clear plan and path.
What type services does the Business Renewables Center provides?
Among others, the Business Renewables Center provides a series of educational boot camps designed to help a) buyers understand the market, contract risks and best practices for procurement; and b) developers understand non-utility buyers. We are lucky enough to be supported by experienced buyers as faculty for both series of boot camps.
We also hold two member-gatherings a year, where we facilitate discussions between buyers and sellers aimed at understanding the latest barriers to transactions. And subsequently co-developing solution concepts to guide the Business Renewables Center’s work.
What are your thoughts on participating in the Solar Canada Conference & Exposition 2017?
I am very excited. The industry has undergone significant change since the last time I attended the event, back in 2014.
I am really looking forward to bringing a different perspective to the show, having engaging discussions with fellow participants, and sharing insights for future projects.
I believe that the solar energy market is going to become truly pan-Canadian in the future and events like this help to ratchet things up a notch or two.
Mark works with the Business Renewables Center (BRC) to raise awareness of the potential from non-utility buyers of power purchase agreements, and works with the BRC membership to develop tools and resources for all market actors to increase transaction efficiency of corporate purchasing of renewable energy.
In 2007, Mark combined personal passion with professional background and joined Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Advisory Group. Mark supported finance raising, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) events, financial modelling, and sector-specific consulting. Mark worked with this Group for three years in the UK and Europe, and a further six years in Canada and the U.S. before joining Rocky Mountain Institute. Mark is based in Boulder, Colorado and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MarkRockPorter.
The Canadian solar energy market is growing rapidly
Solar Canada Conference & Exposition 2017 will provide an excellent platform to connect with industry professionals and enter this growing market. Solar Canada takes place December 4 – 5, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. Canada’s largest solar energy conference is a must-attend event for solar energy professionals, stakeholders, and advocates. Register today.