Today, energy management and automation specialist Schneider Electric launched a collaborative online platform to help commercial and industrial companies find the right tools and financial vehicles to meet their sustainability goals. Designed to simplify and accelerate the buying process, the New Energy Opportunities (NEO) Network™ allows end users to quickly identify and vet renewable energy, cleantech and energy-efficiency prospects.
The NEO Network connects sustainability and energy managers at Fortune 1000 companies with technology providers, project developers and affiliates, such as investors and law firms, to bring greater transparency and standardization to transactions.
It is intended to help companies find the right fit for their organization – a task which has become more daunting, albeit more affordable, as renewables have gained more traction. Power purchase agreements (PPAs) tied to offsite wind and solar projects more than doubled in the U.S. and Mexico last year, and more growth is yet to come. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy will increase by an average of 2.6 percent per year through 2040 – the fastest-growing energy source through that period. And it could grow even faster; the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report earlier this year outlining how renewables could feasibly double in the global energy mix by 2030.
Whether they are looking for a PPA for electricity from a wind farm or distributed solar installed on a parking lot coupled with energy storage, the NEO Network will only link companies to proven technologies and viable projects. Schneider Electric will act as the network moderator, building the platform and qualifying the organizations that participate. The company manages 40 gigawatts of electricity load in more than 100 countries on behalf of clients; expertise it will lend to the network.
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“Solar or biomass? Grid connected or not? PPA or lease? The endless questions and combinations make it difficult for companies to move their sustainability programs forward with speed and confidence,” said Steve Wilhite, the Senior Vice President of Energy and Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric. “Add in the falling price of renewables and storage, and a mass of new industry players, and the picture gets even more blurred. Our vision is to remove the layers, the complexity, and advance informed decision making and partnerships.”
To help companies find an ideal fit to support their climate action and business goals, the NEO Network allows participants to:
- Discover — Participants have access to a knowledge center with whitepapers, research reports and market intelligence covering more than 50 countries and regions;
- Connect — Companies create profiles outlining their sustainability objectives, project experience and capabilities and references. Community forums also allow participants to post questions, join in facilitated discussions and share best practices; and
- Exchange — Participants can collaborate with peers, and search for existing developments based on technology type, project size and location. They can also engage leading cleantech providers to initiate new sustainability projects.
Participaation in the NEO Network is available via subscription. Founding participants include AEG, Allergan, Bloom Energy, Equinix, and VF Corporation.
“We recently contracted 330 megawatts of solar and wind energy through three different power purchase agreements, and understand how complicated the process can be,” said Sam Kapoor, the Chief Global Operations Officer at Equinix, which delivers interconnection and data center services to companies across the globe. “These are long-term contracts and we can't afford to lock into agreements with unknown financial risk. A platform such as the NEO Network will be valuable as we look to achieve our goal of 100 percent clean and renewable energy.”