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Almost Half of Big Corporations Plan Renewables Increase, Study Says

Nearly half of the world’s largest corporations plan to moderately or significantly increase investment in renewable energy over the next five years, according to research by Ernst & Young.

This quarter’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices questioned 100 companies with revenues of $1 billion or more on energy spend, types of energy consumed, energy strategy formulation and outlook. Some 68 percent of those companies purchase some form of electricity generated from renewable sources. Forty-six percent of respondents say that their use will increase, with nine percent saying it will increase significantly over the next five years. In addition, 51 percent say company-owned renewable generation will increase in this time.

Along with an increased use of renewables, efficiency and growing self-generation are driving corporate energy strategy discussions.

Energy costs look to be a key driver in this change of approach. Half of respondents said their energy expenditures represents five percent or more of operating costs, and 22 percent report that energy operating costs are equal to or exceed 20 percent. Some 73 of respondents foresee their already substantial energy costs rising over the next five years, and 77 percent name cost reduction as a key driver.

The most important energy efficiency methods under discussion are energy demand management, which was named by 47 percent of respondents; building energy management systems, named by 20 percent; energy efficient lighting (20 percent) and building automation (18 percent).

Other subsidiary goals driving strategy include energy security, carbon reduction, and price stability, with regulatory compliance and reputational aspects also playing a part.

The findings echo a report released in May by Deloitte. The annual survey, reSources 2012, found that businesses are driving efforts to cut energy consumption even as the economy recovers, and plan to cut energy use nearly 25 percent over three to four years. Nine out of 10 companies have set goals on electricity use and energy management practices, according to the report.

Countries’ rankings in Ernst & Young’s attractiveness indices remain unchanged since Q4 2011 with China, US, Germany, India and Italy filling the top five spots, in that order. However, all five of the top ranking countries have dropped points during Q1 2012, according to the report.

Ernst & Young attributes China’s one-point drop to concerns that wind sector growth is stalling as the country’s grid infrastructure catches up with recent rapid growth. The US’s two-point drop is based on concerns about the ongoing political gridlock in Washington D.C., the electoral cycle and uncertainty about the country’s long-term energy strategy.

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