Corporate PPAs on the Rise: Why They Should Be Part of Your Net Zero Strategy


In the last five years there has been a 750% increase in companies entering into renewable PPAs, and some 19.5GW of clean energy contracts were signed by more than 100 corporations in 2019. But what is a PPA and why should you care?

What is a PPA?

A Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is a long-term contract under which a business agrees to purchase electricity and RECs directly from a renewable energy generator at an agreed price and without the need for a physical connection. A typical agreement is structured for 10-15 years, enabling the generator to secure funding from a lender to build the project. This is key in a world of diminishing subsidies for renewables, and when reaching the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement requires the pace of adoption of renewables to increase 5-7 times by 2030. A PPA allows a company (the ‘offtaker’) to wear the ‘additionality’ badge – their actions led to new green electrons vibrating onto the grid.

Power Purchase Agreement structures

There are three typical contract structures for the corporate PPA:

  • Physical PPAs
  • Synthetic PPAs
  • Private Wire PPAs

A physical or ‘sleeved PPA’ physically transmits electricity from the generator to the customer, with a third-party supplier ‘sleeving’ onto the traditional energy supply . The PPA will set the sale and purchase of electricity at a fixed price and allocate benefits (such as green certificates) In certain jurisdictions these provisions will also include obligations – see the white paper for details

A ‘virtual’ or ‘synthetic’ PPA, takes the form of a contract where the offtaker and generator agree a defined ‘strike price’ for power generated by a renewable energy facility. The agreement works as a financial hedge: if the spot price exceeds the PPA defined strike price, the generator pays the excess amount to the offtaker; if the market price for power is less than the strike price the offtaker pays the shortfall to the generator. The offtaker receives the RECs for every megawatt hour of energy that the project sells.

Private Wire PPA

Private Wire PPAs are concerned with the sale of electricity from a generator to an offtaker. Power will normally be sold directly from the generator’s facility to the offtaker, rather than being notionally passed through a national power grid, and hence shield the offtaker from non-commodity costs. The generating facility will be located close to the offtaker’s assets and will usually only supply power to the offtaker.

How straightforward is a CPPA?

The negotiation of Corporate PPAs requires the consideration of several factors and risks, including time to construct the project, technology type, contract length, shape and structure, and counterparty credit risk. We work with our clients to ensure they understand the risks and opportunities around CPPAs before they proceed.

Seems complicated; can’t I just buy RECs?

The abundant supply of unbundled RECs means they can be so cheap they do not have any real financial impact on the projects they came from. As such they are not a long-term solution. Contracting with a named generator, allows your business to promote that your energy is coming from a specific renewable energy source and is directly investing in the growth of renewable energy generation.

Benefits of Corporate PPAs

  • claim credit for bringing renewable energy onto the grid.
  • enables you to say that your energy is coming from a specific renewable source
  • go “100% renewable” without investing your own capital and resources to install renewable technology
  • help translate carbon-reduction commitments into tangible greenenergy investments.
  • hedge against rising energy costs and volatility
  • protect your long-term strategy and reputation

In summary

If your business has yet to start the conversation around renewables, it won’t be long until outside factors force the issue. Pressure from consumers, business partners, employees, and investors are all pushing businesses to aggressively pursue sustainability goals. Economic fallout caused by Brexit and COVID-19 has only added to the fire. As subsidyfree renewables become a reality (and arguably the norm), and climate action shifts from the domain of CSR or ESG to the heart of corporate strategy, CPPAs are likely to play an increasingly important role in helping projects achieve financing, as well as meeting corporates’ long-term supply, energy cost and decarbonisation goals.

Alfa Energy Group

Alfa Energy Group, an Edison Energy company, is an international energy, sustainability and technology consultant partner with 250 employees over 3 international locations. For over 25 years, Alfa has been servicing its clients’ needs through energy and water management, sustainability, and compliance consulting, and an intuitive ecosystem of user-driven energy, water, and carbon management software platforms. With coveted awards, an international industry-wide recognition, and clever simple solutions, today Alfa is partnering with clients to establish and deliver pivotal net zero strategies. Through smart energy management, the expertise and diligence of its people, transparent processes, and data management, Alfa continues to lead through its recognised gold standard of service delivery.