Tech Titans Commit to Clean Energy

Tech giants Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft plan to continue their clean energy initiatives even after President Trump’s executive action regarding the Clean Power Plan.

The companies issued a joint statement late last week stating they would stay the course on their vow to focus on renewable energy use. “Our companies have all committed to ambitious long-term goals of running our operations using more renewable energy and we remain committed to those targets.

“We believe that strong clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while also supporting American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth.”

The Clean Power Plan was an Obama administration policy aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions and combating global warming. Last week, President Trump signed an executive order to start rolling back many of the regulations under the plan.

Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft use extraordinary amounts of energy via data centers. According to a 2016 government report, U.S. data centers consumed approximately 70 billion kWh of electricity in 2014, the most recent year examined. The report shows that data center electricity consumption increased by about 4% from 2010-2014, a dramatic increase from the preceding five years, during which total U.S. data center energy consumption grew by 24%, and an even bigger change from the first half of last decade, when their energy consumption grew nearly 90%. Based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020.

The study illustrates that efficiency improvements have played a large role in taming the growth rate of the data center industry’s energy usage. Without such improvements — and staying at the efficiency levels of 2010 — data centers would have consumed almost 40 billion kWh more than they did in 2014.

Earlier this year, Apple and NV Energy announced plans to install 200 MW of additional solar energy in Nevada by early 2019 to provide more renewable energy for Apple’s Reno data center. And Google reported last July that artificial intelligence had helped reduce the energy needed to cool its data centers by 40%. Retail and tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Target and Walmart are among nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies seeking to have operations in states with clean energy production, due to fossil fuel price volatility and pollution concerns.

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