2030 Finance | September 21, 2017

Economics behind U.S. corporate push to adopt renewables

The team at


President Trump’s announcement that he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement came on Thursday, June 1. By the next Monday, 1,200 political leaders, university presidents and business execs vowed to continue efforts to combat climate change.

Corporations continue to diverge from the president on climate and renewables, driven by economics, not politics (see “From ‘Condemn and Disband’ to ‘Invest and Transform.’”)

A survey of 94 U.S. corporations, including 40 of the Fortune 500, finds that interest in renewables among American businesses is robust and growing, even after Trump’s announcement. More than 70% of the companies surveyed by Smart Energy Decisions have completed at least one renewable-energy purchase. A solid 60% report their interest in renewables has grown since last year.

Reducing energy costs was the single most important factor cited in the survey (29%), thanks to declining prices for wind and solar. Only 8% of the companies said brand image was the motivation. “This finding explodes the myth that brand image/marketing value is the leading reason to source renewable energy,” says SED’s John Failla. Adds Rob Threlkeld, a manager for renewable energy at General Motors, “Basic math initially drove businesses to get serious about energy efficiency, and the same is happening with renewables today.”