Companies worldwide switch to solar energy

While many businesses still have a way to go to limit their carbon footprint, companies across the world are making a switch to solar energy to help meet the demands of climate change.

Some of the most compelling stories came from Africa, home to the world’s fastest growing population.

In Tanzania, Off-Grid Electric allows homes and small businesses to install solar systems and pay for them via mobile phone payments. Off-Grid says it’s currently installing more than 10,000 solar units every month in Tanzania and Rwanda, and recently raised $70m from San Francisco-based DBL Partners and other investors to help hire more staff and expand operations.

Many Fortune 500 companies recognize a direct connection between climate change and their financial wellbeing.

Earlier this month, a half-dozen major companies, including TD Bank and Interface, joined RE100, a coalition of businesses that are switching to 100% renewable electricity.

The shift has been especially strong in the US, where large corporate buyers contracted a record 3.2 gigawatts of renewable energy last year, nearly 20% of the 16.4 gigawatts of renewables added to the US electric grid overall. That means tens of thousands of workers rely on solar and wind power to do their jobs, and that number will only go up.

More businesses will switch to renewable energy if they are able to finance it. We saw a record $329bn in global clean energy investment last year, but that falls short of the estimated $1tn that will be needed every year through 2050 to help achieve the 2C goal. A major emission producing country such as India, which aims to install 175 gigawatts of wind and solar power by 2022, will need an estimated $200bn to reach that milestone. The country attracted $10.9bn in clean energy investments last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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Photo: David Schankbone

August 18, 2016
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