Read the newly released paper on impact assessment from ZEROgrid's Impact Advisory Initiative. View
Driving broad corporate action to create the reliable, clean grid of the future

Collaborating with a premier cohort of grid experts and stakeholders, ZEROgrid empowers corporations to lead in addressing the toughest decarbonization and reliability challenges we face today.

Read the Press Release

WHAT IS THE ZEROGRID INITIATIVE?

Decarbonizing the power grid is the greatest opportunity to tackle global carbon emissions within this decade. A carbon-free grid will not only eliminate one of the largest sources of emissions but will also serve as a critical enabler for tackling other high-emitting sectors of the economy including transportation and industrial processes.

To rapidly accelerate grid decarbonization efforts in the near term, the focus — and the incentives — for companies must expand beyond the traditional practice of buying more renewables on the grid where it is convenient. Businesses can play a leading role by working across systems, with grid operators and policymakers, to drive deep decarbonization alongside increased reliability and affordability.

Akamai, General Motors, Meta, Prologis, Salesforce, Walmart, and other leading companies are joining together with RMI to launch the Zero-Emissions | Reliability Optimized Grid Initiative, or ZEROgrid — a comprehensive roadmap to accelerate the transition to a zero-emissions grid. ZEROgrid will start by building a holistic framework defining targeted metrics for engagement and impact informed by reliability and emissions experts.

ZEROgrid will maximize grid reliability and emissions reductions through enabling sustained, high-impact corporate action across clean energy procurement, policy, investment, R&D, and operations. Encouraging corporate investment in this broader range of grid decarbonization and reliability activities, and defining the metrics to measure progress, will remain ZEROgrid’s focus and primary goal for the duration of our collaborative efforts.

WHY IS IT NECESSARY? WHY NOW?

Climate science makes clear we must cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to avoid climate catastrophe, but the challenge is even more significant for decarbonizing the electric grid. The power sector in the United States must achieve an 80 percent reduction in emissions while increasing power production by 60 percent to meet growing demand — all while increasing grid reliability.

The private sector has been a critical driver of increasing clean energy on the grid to date. Since 2008, corporate renewable purchases have helped bring on line 148 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity globally — more than the total power-generating capacity of France. A quarter of those purchases happened in 2022 alone, signaling that corporate action in the clean energy space is rapidly accelerating.

Despite these purchase commitments, overall global emissions from the power sector have remained flat at a time when we need to see a sharp decline, and extreme weather events have exposed vulnerabilities in the reliability of the current fossil-fuel powered grid that aren’t yet being addressed at sufficient scale.

Diverse Actions Through our 5 Pillars

ZEROgrid is driving broad corporate action to create the reliable, clean grid of the future.

Through a first-of-its-kind collaboration between data providers, academics, corporates, and policymakers, ZEROgrid is helping to better inform these efforts and enhance their impact. A robust technical foundation informing what actions would lead to the greatest impact will incentivize companies to accelerate the transition to a net zero future.

Explore the examples (below) to see the diverse types of actions ZEROgrid Collaborators are currently taking.

Corporate Action

Even with increasingly robust climate policy and a range of corporate action cited below, we are collectively not on track to realize the decarbonized grid of the future. There is still a 1.3 gigaton CO2e gap to close for the US electricity grid to be on a net zero pathway by 2030.

Data Source: BNEF New Energy Outlook, Emissions from Key Sectors Under Different Scenarios, 2022

Procurement

Developing renewables to maximize decarbonization and improve the reliability of the grid requires going beyond conventional procurement practices. ZEROgrid members are already taking action while helping to ensure that the business community will have the tools required to fill the gap in achieving net zero by 2030.

Disclaimer

By publishing this content, RMI does not directly or indirectly endorse any company discussed herein or any product, service or data published or provided, or to be published or provided, by any of the companies. RMI relies on the data provided; We have not verified the data; do not guarantee the accuracy of the data and disclaim any responsibility or reliability related to data provided by third parties.

Policy

Coordinating regulatory and standards revision efforts to accelerate reliable grid decarbonization.

“Releasing a set of transportation-related public policy principles (in collaboration with PepsiCo) to convey to federal and state policymakers the types of policy interventions, planning and guidance that can support the efficient and economical transition to zero-emission commercial transportation fleets.”

Disclaimer

By publishing this content, RMI does not directly or indirectly endorse any company discussed herein or any product, service or data published or provided, or to be published or provided, by any of the companies. RMI relies on the data provided; We have not verified the data; do not guarantee the accuracy of the data and disclaim any responsibility or reliability related to data provided by third parties.

Finance

Choosing which external projects to invest in and what financial tools to leverage for the energy transition.

Disclaimer

By publishing this content, RMI does not directly or indirectly endorse any company discussed herein or any product, service or data published or provided, or to be published or provided, by any of the companies. RMI relies on the data provided; We have not verified the data; do not guarantee the accuracy of the data and disclaim any responsibility or reliability related to data provided by third parties.

To understand more about how voluntary action can connect to grid decarbonization and reliability, explore the Corporate Actions Playbook.

THE CHALLENGE & THE OPPORTUNITY

Currently, sustainability metrics focus on the annual volume, measured in megawatt hours, of clean energy purchases. There is a significant opportunity to increase the benefit of these energy purchases by more precisely measuring where and when energy is being put on the grid, and the resulting avoided emissions.

ZEROgrid's focus and primary opportunity is encouraging corporate investments in a fuller range of grid decarbonization activities, informed by better metrics. Businesses can play a leading role with utilities and policymakers to help drive deep decarbonization and increased reliability at the system level, and ZEROgrid will help lead that effort through a holistic framework involving targeted metrics and direct engagement with the grid operators.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM ZEROGRID – PHASE 1

ZEROgrid is a systems-wide roadmap that will drive corporate leadership to accelerate the transition to a more reliable, affordable, and fully decarbonized grid. The initiative’s approach is unique because we are focused on growing corporate engagement beyond merely making direct renewable energy purchases. Grid operators will help advise on how corporations can support system-level reliability and cost-effectiveness, which will help ensure that a decarbonized grid is accessible for businesses of all sizes. Find our latest meeting notes here.

Engaging corporations effectively requires acknowledging the role of voluntary markets in augmenting grid reliability and taking a systems-level, as opposed to enterprise-level, approach to grid decarbonization. Read the latest insight from ZEROgrid's impact advisory initative on evaluating system benefits of voluntary action. The first phase of ZEROgrid’s efforts will assess best practices with grid operators and organizations and move toward defining how corporations can play a key role in clean policy advocacy, clean tech investments, supporting research, development, piloting new technologies, and operational changes that increase energy efficiency and bolster grid resilience.

This work will inform the interventions and activation plan that ZEROgrid will announce later in the year as we look toward developing a comprehensive methodology to incentivize corporate climate investments that maximize the potential for moving toward a truly ZERO emissions grid. Click here to get involved or email [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

The energy transition has had a longstanding focus on renewable energy deployment. ZEROgrid is a first of its kind initiative that considers the climate impacts of deployment on the grid alongside a broader range of actions that contribute to a decarbonized, affordable, and reliable grid.

ZEROgrid will facilitate more impactful corporate clean energy procurement by establishing clear incentives and holistic metrics around new procurement methodologies that consider where and when energy is put on the grid, and the resulting avoided emissions.

ZEROgrid will illuminate new methods for corporate action in addition to procurement that can help accelerate grid decarbonization strategies such as clean policy advocacy, clean tech investments, supporting research, development, and piloting of new technologies, and a variety of operational changes that increase efficiency and help bolster grid resilience.

Acknowledging that large energy buyers and other grid participants necessarily play a role in augmenting overall grid reliability and affordability, ZEROgrid is partnering with grid operators to fulfill their affordability mandate while providing practitioners with the required tools to take reliability-focused actions.

ZEROgrid's mission is based around incentivizing systems-level leadership that will improve existing policies, investments, and commitments to ensure a grid that is capable of delivering on a 1.5°C future. As a part of its work, ZEROgrid will define, monitor, and connect corporate climate action to the changes the grid must undergo:

  • Decarbonization: grid CO2e intensity
  • Reliability: Gigawatts of clean firm resources deployed
  • Affordability and rate of change: Economies of scale that drive accessibility and swift deployment

Organized by RMI, ZEROgrid will follow in the footsteps of collaborative efforts like the Mission Possible Partnership and the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance, whose success is defined by their ability to convene a wide range of stakeholders around groundbreaking technical insights.

Through collaboration with existing coalitions and standards, ZEROgrid will provide additive, open-source thought leadership, facilitate collaborative conversations aimed at developing creative solutions for systemic problems, and operationalize high-impact actions designed to further decarbonization efforts and enhance grid reliability and affordability.

If you represent a company that is interested in learning more and participating in our programmatic initiative launch later this fall, email [email protected]

ZEROgrid has a global focus, leveling the playing field for access to thought leadership and lessons learned across the corporate landscape to activate project-based solutions applicable around the world.

A key component of measuring ZEROgrid’s success will be leveraging Regional Transmission Organizations’ mandates for providing affordable and reliable power to deliver decarbonized energy solutions at cost parity with existing options. The affordability mandate is essential to ensure businesses of all sizes continue to prosper while supporting cleaner, more reliable power.

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