Power and Renewables

Introduction to power purchase agreements for renewable energy

byHakan Corapcioglu

Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are an essential tool for traditional and renewable developers and buyers. A PPA is a contractual agreement between a generator and a buyer that outlines the purchase of electricity or ancillary services for a set time period. Developers can benefit from PPAs by securing a long-term revenue stream for their projects, while buyers can achieve reliable supply and sustainability goals by purchasing renewable energy.

What are PPAs used for?

PPAs can be used for any type of energy source, including traditional, solar, wind and energy storage. In PPA agreements the buyer is the direct user of energy generated. However, virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) are specific to renewable energy sources. VPPAs allow buyers to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable projects to offset their carbon emissions. In this case, the power generated by the developer is not directly used by the buyer. This can help buyers achieve their sustainability goals and support the growth of renewable energy projects.

Sellers and buyers of electricity in PPAs

In most cases, a renewable energy developer would sell the electricity generated from their project to a utility or large industrial buyer for a long-term period. The utility or buyer would then distribute the electricity to end-users. PPAs can also involve independent power producers (IPPs) generating and selling directly to a user, which in most cases is for industrial use.

Elements of a PPA

PPAs for purchasing renewable energy typically include the following elements:

Location of power assets

Developers must identify suitable land locations for their renewable energy projects based on capacity factors, land topology characteristics, policy and land ownership.

find-suitable-land-for-renewable-projects-with-prism
Source: Enverus PRISM®, parcels and suitable land analytics.

Electricity price and project

Developers and utilities negotiate the price of electricity generated by the renewable energy project for the duration of the project lifecycle based on locational marginal pricing, years the asset is in service and other factors.

Design and construction

Developers are responsible for designing and building the renewable energy project. They must contract with engineering, construction and procurement parties and obtain necessary permits, leases and tax credits.

rated-power-pvdesign-shows-renewable-project-site
Source: RatedPower pvDesign.

Point of interconnection

Developers must design and construct infrastructure, including transmission lines, to connect the renewable energy project to the power grid. They must also adhere to ISO standards during the interconnection queue phase.

point-of-interconnection-illustrated-in-enverus-prism
Source: Enverus PRISM®, Power & Renewables Foundations, parcels with point of interconnection.

Mitigating risk

Both buyers and sellers use various methods to reduce risk, including contractually and through due diligence in each phase of the PPA agreement. This may include analyzing past agreements, successful completion of the project and reasons for the failure of other projects.

mitigate-risk-of-renewable-power-projects-with-prism
Source: Enverus PRISM®, project tracking analytics.

Terms and conditions

PPAs typically include terms and conditions in the event of project delay or abandonment, including the consequences for the developer’s inability to design, construct and deliver power to the utility or direct user.

Meet your sustainability goals

PPAs are an essential tool for renewable energy generators and buyers, enabling them to secure a long-term revenue stream and achieve sustainability goals. Renewable energy buyers should consider VPPAs to offset their carbon emissions, and both buyers and sellers must understand the elements of a PPA to negotiate a successful agreement.
Enverus Power & Renewables solutions can help you at each step of the power and renewables asset lifecycle. We can help you:

  • Understand where you fit in the energy transition to help you invest intelligently.
  • Identify the best locations to build solar or wind projects based on generation capacity and LMP.
  • Plan and optimize the design and engineering of your photovoltaic project.
  • Maximize the value of your asset with real-time analytics to optimize your power trading strategy.

Want to learn how you can evaluate potential opportunities and negotiate your next PPA with power grid data and insights? Fill out the form below to request a demo and get started.

Picture of Hakan Corapcioglu

Hakan Corapcioglu

Hakan Corapcioglu is the lead technical advisor for Enverus' Power & Renewables team. Prior to joining Enverus, Hakan worked for Ponderosa Advisors, which was acquired by Enverus, as a mudlogger/on-site geologist and lead petroleum engineer. Hakan received a Master of Science and bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Colorado School of Mines, along with a minor in business and economics.

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