The year 2020 showed us what could go wrong and have profound impacts on humanity. Extreme weather, wildfires, and floods continued to worsen from already dire conditions in 2019. Social unrest forced a public reckoning with racial and economic injustices. And a global pandemic brought daily life as we knew it to a halt.
These challenges and events drove collective reflection and added new context to what it means to be sustainable. As a result, there has been widespread recognition and acceptance that the time for action is now.
The world is transitioning to renewable energy to address our changing climate. In 2020, global additions of renewable energy capacity rose to 260 gigawatts (GW) – exceeding 2019 additions by nearly 50% – and fossil fuel additions fell to 60 GW, the lowest levels in decades.
I am proud of Pattern Energy’s role in this transition to a clean energy economy. We are active in local and national efforts to expand the use of renewable energy, including building the largest wind energy project in the Americas. There is still more for us to do.
The revolutionary shift to renewables creates opportunities to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our industry that reflects the communities in which we work. We must foster an energy transition for all. Doing so is not only a fairness issue and the right thing to do. It is also essential from a business perspective.
Pattern Energy performs better with a diversity of ideas, approaches, perspectives, and backgrounds. It allows us to be more creative and identify opportunities. Additionally, our industry needs new workers and leaders to achieve our expansion goals. We have kicked off an industry effort to increase training programs for people from transitional communities and underrepresented groups, such as veterans and coal country workers, and expand contracting with local and women- and minority-owned companies.
We are also acting on DEI issues within Pattern Energy. In 2020, we worked with our Affinity Networks to form an internal DEI Council, publish a statement with actionable DEI commitments to result in meaningful outcomes, and hold our first Diversity Month to enhance awareness and understanding. We are committed to improving our diversity metrics and supporting a work culture where everyone is empowered and feels they belong.
2020 also brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, which is fundamentally an issue of sustainability. It forced companies to quickly adapt to protect their employees and mitigate the business impacts. We performed well during the pandemic due to previous actions of upgrading our Enterprise Resource Planning system and other technologies and having a partial work-from-home environment and a culture of supporting our staff. We provided employees the tools they needed to work effectively from home. We were also able to assist the communities where we have a presence by deploying half a million dollars to our COVID-19 giving program.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Pattern Energy had a transformative year. We reorganized into a vertically integrated private company, which streamlined our governance structure and consolidated our risk profile. As a private entity, we maintained our dedication to strong governance, sustainability, and reporting. In fact, by combining our development, construction, operations, and asset management activities under one company, we have increased the amount of ESG metrics we are measuring and disclosing.
With the support of our Board of Directors, our sustainability program continues to evolve and reflect our long-term strategy. Guided by our cross-functional Sustainability Advisory Committee, we are improving our approach to assessing ESG-related risks and opportunities to create value for our company and stakeholders. We are also developing an overarching ESG policy and an integrated strategic sustainability plan rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These will set the stage for continued measurable growth on our sustainability journey.
Pattern Energy’s 2020 performance highlights are evidence of the increase in renewable energy investment and demand for clean energy. We kicked off construction activities and closed over $1 billion in financing on the Americas’ largest single-phase renewable energy project. Our 1,050 MW Western Spirit Wind project and its accompanying 155-mile transmission line will capture the strong winds in New Mexico and deliver clean electricity to the West. The historic project is creating substantial economic benefits for the state of New Mexico and helping our customers meet their sustainability goals.
We raised $700 million in capital through the biggest U.S. green high-yield bond sale since 2017. And, with our Japanese affiliate Green Power Investment Corporation, we partnered with some of Japan’s most respected financial institutions for a “Tokumei Kumiai” financing of our existing Japanese fleet.
I am immensely proud of our team’s achievements during a year of challenges like none we have ever seen. While we were physically apart, in some ways we were able to connect more meaningfully than when we sat next to one another. Our creative spirit and energy fueled imaginative approaches to engage, support each other and our families, and meet our business objectives, which traditionally depended on travel and face-to-face interactions.
Our mission of transitioning the world to renewable energy, and striving for a just transition for all, is more imperative today than ever. Now is the time for action. Companies must act and be held accountable. Together, we can make our world more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
I hope this report inspires readers to act and generates more collaboration and conversation on making Pattern Energy, our communities, and the world more sustainable for all of us and future generations.
CEO, Pattern Energy