Petrochemicals giant Borealis and mobile telephony outfits Orange and Vodaphone were among the new European companies that signed a record 51 power production agreements (PPAs), as the corporate renewables space expanded to add 4GW of capacity last year, according to latest numbers from WindEurope.

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Calculated through the RE-Source platform, some 33 clean-power buyers add new PPAs for with wind, solar, and other renewable projects, with online retail titan Amazon leading the change with some seven deals totalling 850MW across six EU countries, as some 2GW of wind and 1.7GW of solar deals were done in 2020.

German railway operator Deutsche Bahn announced four PPAs in Germany, including the country’s first offshore wind PPA and a 30-year solar power agreement, the longest-term deal of its kind on record.

“This is a major increase on the previous record of 2.5GW announced in 2019. Corporate renewable energy is going from strength to strength and we are excited to see companies progress closer towards climate neutrality in 2021,” said WindEurope.

“We see from the report that the number of PPAs signed each year has increased steadily since 2013. Until 2018, wind accounted for 90% of the contracted capacity in Europe but the last couple of years has seen a rapid expansion in solar PPAs.

“Alongside this success story, the types of companies signing PPAs are more diverse than ever before. As we covered in a recent articlefrom telecoms to pharmaceuticals,” said WindEurope, noting it was “not just companies that are benefiting”, with 20 British universtities grouping together for a wind PPA and the City of London inking a solar power purchase deal.

In 2020, commercial and industrial solar installations surpassed 8GW, adding to a all-in total of more than 66GW across the EU. Germany led with more than 2.8GW for the year, followed by the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Greece.

The growth of renewables PPAs is explained by financial drivers – WindEurope points to recent survey of 1,200 companies across six countries showed that 92% “are doing so to reduce energy costs” – and a firewall again electricity market volality, as companies pay a fixed price for energy over a period of years.

“Although Covid-19 brought uncertainty to many industries in the past year, companies proved their long-term commitments to decarbonisation with a remarkable year for renewable electricity procurement in Europe,” said WindEurope.