Only 2% of U.S. businesses have a 100% renewable goal

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Deloitte has released a new study:Moving organizational energy use toward 100% renewables—aspiration or destination? which analyzes the renewable energy commitments and carbon reduction efforts in each sector of American industry. And, while so much has been made of the commitments of tech giants like Apple and Google, a different industry has itself best positioned to lead the way into a renewable future.

The study finds that it is the healthcare industry which has the highest concentration of near-term renewable goals, with the most distant target year cited for a 100% goal being 2050. Moreover, the healthcare industry also most often reported goals to source a specific percentage of their electricity from renewables, with nearly 61% of respondents outlining such a goal. These goals are significant given the industry’s carbon footprint, as the healthcare industry also contributes 10% of U.S. carbon emissions and 9% of non-greenhouse gas air pollutants.

Deloitte shares that, in total, “45% of organizations surveyed cited commitments to increase renewable energy sources in their electricity consumption mix by a target year; nearly 25% cited having renewable procurement/generation goals.” For all the fuss that has been made, and with good reason, over corporate commitments to renewable energy in recent years, both of those statistics feel low, though not pessimistically low.

No, the pessimistically low statistic is the just 2% of organizations surveyed who responded that that they were specifically targeting 100% renewable power at some point in the future. It would seem that answer stems from the idea that for these corporations, cutting carbon emissions is a more immediate and targeted goal than going 100% renewable and will be more realistic to accomplish in the short-term.

This idea is reflected by Marlene Motyka, U.S. and global renewable energy leader and principal of Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics, who said of the survey:

While it is encouraging to see the progress being made by organizations across industry groups, where we are today is only the tip of the iceberg to achieving 100% renewable energy. There is a long way to go for those looking to utilize these resources to lower the carbon footprint of their operations. For many, 100% renewables will remain an aspiration unless more wind and solar energy is available and key policy initiatives and technological advances are realized.

Ultimately, while long-term goals may not be at ideal levels yet, efforts to cut carbon and switch to renewable energy are being made in every industry, meaning that down the line it is more than likely that generation goals will reflect a commitment to renewables. Right now, corporations are loudly voicing that their main concern is cutting carbon emissions, and the data reflects that.