The percentage of renewable electricity purchased by US companies in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is growing and will likely increase significantly by the start of the next decade, according to a first-ever analysis by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
In looking at the industry, NREL found that 113 ICT companies in the US are powering 14 percent of their electricity needs from renewable sources and collectively consumed more than 59 million MWh of electricity in 2014. By 2020, that figure could increase to 37 million MWh of renewable electricity, or 48 percent of their electricity needs.
According to the report, “Renewable Electricity Use by the US Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry,” 20 leading ICT companies have renewable electricity goals that range in size from 8-100 percent renewable electricity use, with an average goal of about 64 percent.
NREL used data from the 113 companies that report to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership and/or the Carbon Disclosure Project Worldwide. The report, which includes case studies of renewable energy purchased by companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google finds that companies are applying a variety of approaches to procure renewable electricity to meet their own internal corporate commitments, for example:
- Apple has focused its renewable procurement on on-site generation. In 2014, Apple was the second-largest user of on-site renewable electricity participating in the GPP.
- Autodesk created the Corporate Finance Approach to Climate Stabilizing Targets (C- FACTS), which is an open source tool that encourages companies to reduce their GHG emissions through investments that are proportional to their financial circumstances and take into account scientific and climate policy stabilization targets.
- Cisco designates energy managers who are responsible for establishing priorities of efficiency and/or carbon reduction and setting and meeting annual targets accordingly. Over the last decade Cisco has increased its transparency with regard to its carbon footprint.
- eBay’s “The Future of Internet Power” group promotes best practices to help develop a platform for other ICT companies, utilities, and policymakers to initiate low-carbon power sourcing at data centers in the United States.
- To execute its long-term strategy, Google created a subsidiary, Google Energy, which buys electricity from utility-scale renewable facilities. Additionally, Google has taken strides to test and grow on-site renewable energy projects, generating non-grid connected electricity from small-scale landfill gas and solar photovoltaic renewable projects.