1.6

Gigawatts

of renewable energy generation capacity in AY's portfolio, 90% of which is from solar

11.5%

Reduction

in scope 1 emissions rate per unit of energy generated, 2018 - 2020

12%

Recycled

12% of total hazardous waste was reused or recycled in 2019


The Path to Drawdown: PV Solar

To solve climate change and remain below 1.5ºC of global warming, the globe needs to switch to generating power from fossil fuels to using 100% emissions free sources by 2050.

Utility-Scale Solar

The largest source of this clean energy is the sun (barring advances in nuclear fusion). Photovoltaic or PV solar panels (the kind you see on rooftops) have emerged as the predominant way of capturing the sun's energy and converting it into electricity.

The industry has been growing fast and, as of 2020, solar panels are now the cheapest source of electricity in most places on earth

Solar produces ~2% of global electricity today. According to Project Drawdown, to be on a path to remain under 1.5ºC of warming, utility scale solar (as opposed to rooftop solar) will need to be generating a combined ~26% of global electricity by 2050.

To get there, the PV solar industry is going to need to continue to massively scale over the few next decades:

  • 720 TWh of solar electricity generated in 2019
  • 28,200 TWh needed by 2050
  • CAGR of 12.56% from 2019 - 2050

Another analysis from the IEA predicts that in order to reach a 100% clean electricity grid by 2050, annual solar panel manufacturing capacity will need to scale from 110 GWs in 2019 to 630 GWs in 2030.

Onshore Wind

Onshore wind turbines account for 4.36% of global electricity generation in 2020. 

Global wind capacity has been growing steadily, increasing around 20% per year for the past decade, including an 11% capacity growth in 2019-2020. Thanks to this expansion and advancements in turbine design, the cost of electricity generated from onshore wind continues to fall, even in areas with low wind speeds.

According to Project Drawdown, to be on a path to remain under 1.5C° of warming, onshore wind turbines will need to be generating a combined 28.85% of global electricity by 2050. 

To get there, the onshore wind industry will need to continue to scale over the next few decades

  • 1,150 TWh of onshore wind electricity generated in 2018
  • 19,460 TWh needed by 2050
  • CAGR of 9.38% from 2019 - 2050 

The IEA forecasts (p. 74) that, to reach a 100% clean electricity grid by 2050, annual onshore wind capacity additions will have to increase from 109 GWs in 2020 to 310 GWs in 2030.

Hydropower

Hydropower electricity generation accounts for 44.5% of global electricity Next to solar and wind, hydropower is the third-largest (p. 45) energy source in the clean electricity mix.

According to the IEA, hydropower capacity additions need to accelerate significantly to reach the Sustainable Development Scenario level. 

CAGR of 2.82% from 2019-2030


Importance of Yieldcos in Financing Renewable Energy

Yieldcos play an important role in financing renewable energy developers. Developers of utility-scale renewable energy take on significant risks and uncertainties when building new solar or wind plants. Yieldcos were established to protect investors in renewable energy stocks from these uncertainties and to give developers a steady source of capital for future projects.

Yieldcos are publicly traded corporate entities that own, operate and manage a portfolio of energy assets. Their assets generate long-term, low-risk cash flows, which are then distributed to investors as dividends. Sustained investor interest in yieldcos could continue to channel capital into renewable energy developers, making them competitive against high-carbon alternatives.

About

Atlantica Yield (stock ticker: AY), headquartered in London, UK, owns renewable energy assets in North America, South America, and Europe. Most of its portfolio consists of renewable energy plants (utility-scale solar, onshore wind and hydroelectric) but it also holds water desalination plants, energy storage, efficient natural gas, and transmission infrastructure assets. AY continues to acquire assets across the world.

AY's Role in Drawdown

AY’s combined utility-scale solar, onshore wind and hydro assets had a generation capacity of 3.2 TWh in 2019, which accounted for 0.05% of the global capacity of these three renewable energy sources. Assuming they maintain this market share, this would mean that they would need to increase their asset holdings to generate 6.46 TWh of energy annually by 2030.

This level of growth would require a 6.49% annual increase in generation capacity. AY’s renewable energy generation capacity has grown by 0.6% annually from 2017-2020. They would need to significantly ramp up their rate of growth in this decade to meet global net-zero emission targets.

AY: What We Like

Not only does AY’s portfolio includes assets in a range of renewable energy sectors in multiple regions, the company continues to proactively expand on this path.

AY also participates in and is favorably evaluated (pp. 58-59) by a number of international climate initiatives

  • Signatory (p. 22) to the UN Global Compact and adheres to Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures recommendations (p. 30)
  • A- rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project for environmental transparency and action
  • #2 ranking in the Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies Index
  • #1 ranking (p. 11) in Renewable Power and Utilities by Sustainalytics 

Even with these accolades, AY is working to reduce GHG emissions:

  • 200,000 tons (pp. 63-64) of Scope 1 GHG emissions offset through Voluntary Carbon Credits in 2020 - an 11.5% offset.
  • Goal of maintaining 80% of Adjusted EBITDA (p. 30) generated from low-carbon assets.

Goal of 10% reduction (p. 30) in emission rate per unit of energy generated by 2030.

AY: What We Want to See Improve

Reduce emissions from natural gas assets


AY portfolio includes 343 MW (p. 6) of natural-gas fired power generation capacity. That’s equivalent to 18% of their installed capacity (p. 61) in generation assets and accounted for 88% of AY’s total GHG emissions (p. 37) in 2020. Although the company ensures that these assets meet regulatory standards for efficiency (p. 61), we would like to see emissions from these natural gas assets curtailed through carbon-capture, utilization and storage (p. 160).

Commitment to faster portfolio growth


While acknowledging that AY’s profits were significantly lower in 2020 than in 2019 (p. 21), we would like to see an acceleration in their acquisition of clean energy assets. AY has plans to expand existing assets, acquire new assets and enter into a joint venture in the near future. These efforts should be ramped up.

Reach carbon neutrality and transition to 100% low-carbon assets


We applaud AY’s commitment to reduce the emission rate per unit of energy generated by 10% by the year 2030 (p. 30). But we would like to see them approach emissions reductions more aggressively by establishing a clear timeline for reaching net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions across their operations. Part of this effort should be to transition to 100% low-carbon assets within the next decade.

Other Yieldco Stocks in the Climate Index

Attend Our Next Webinar

Attend Our Next Webinar

Join our next Sustainable Investing 101 webinar, get our favorite DIY options, and walk through how we build our portfolios.

Register
Get Our Newsletter

Get Our Newsletter

Go a level deeper with us and investigate the potential impacts of climate change on investments like your retirement account.

Join Newsletter
Talk To A Human

Talk To A Human

Joining a new investment service can be intimidating. We’re here for you. Click below to email us a question or book a quick call.

Ask a Question