Tech Titans Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

The intersection of business and technology faces tremendous opportunity to accelerate sustainable change.

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Today, a growing degree of awareness allows a business model to simultaneously pursue economic success and social &/or environmental progress by evoking a positive emotional response from both shareholders and stakeholders.

Today, technological advances enable mitigation of deficiencies never before deemed possible.

Recognizing these truths, the clean energy commitment on behalf of Silicon Valley’s tech titans has reached unprecedented territory.

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Among others, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Salesforce, have vowed to achieve 100% renewable energy.

It is rare that there is a confluence of two seismic events as transformative as climate change and big data. It presents amazing opportunities, as well as responsibilities. – Gary Suvis, CMO of Syncsort, Inc.

Data centers require massive amounts of energy and therefore present gaping opportunities for companies to become sustainable leaders in their respective fields. Competition has heightened as Silicon Valley’s behemoths fight to be the greenest.

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“We know at Apple that climate change is real, and our view is that the time for talk has passed and the time for action is now.” – Tim Cook, CEO, Apple.

This past February, Apple made an $848 million investment in solar energy.

The company partnered with First Solar to build a 1300-acre solar farm capable of powering Apple’s massive Cupertino headquarters, a large data store, and every single one of Apple’s offices and retail stores residing in the state of California. With construction to be completed by EOY 2016, Apple will obtain 130 megawatts of power under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

This investment represents the largest commercial purchase of solar – ever.

Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean renewable energy. Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California. – Joe Kishkill, First Solar’s chief commercial officer.

This solar farm is not Apple’s first foray. The company has long invested in wind, hydroelectric power, and fuel cells, and has been in the midst of building another solar farm in Arizona.

But Apple has set the bar tremendously high with its recent generous investment in solar – Wall Street analysts, environmentalists, and competitors were buzzing over the news.

“The investment amount is enormous. This is a really big deal.” – Michel Di Capua, Head of North America Research, Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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On July 7th, Facebook declared it would be adding data center number five to its armada.

The Newest Edition to the Facebook Data Center Fleet: Fort Worth

Like its predecessors, we expect Fort Worth to be one of the most advanced, efficient, and sustainable data centers in the world. Our continuing work on data center design is an important part of our overall infrastructure efficiency efforts, which have helped us save more than $2 billion in infrastructure costs over the last years. Fort Worth will be powered by 100% renewable energy, thanks to the 200 MW of new wind energy we helped bring to the Texas grid as part of this deal. – Tom Furlong, VP Infrastructure, Facebook.

That’s right. Using renewable energy is helping companies save money.

Facebook, seeking to scale computing infrastructure, has been encouraging industry collaboration through a project known as Open Compute. The project has elicited interest from over two hundred members and thousands of participants, all aspiring to work together in order to advance the development of sustainable data centers.

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At Google, we’re striving to power our company with 100% renewable energy. In addition to the environmental benefits, we see renewable energy as a business opportunity and continue to invest in accelerating its development. We believe that by helping power more of the world with renewable energy, we’re creating a better future for everyone.

Powering over 35% of its current data centers with renewable energy sources, the world’s most visited website has agreed to $2 billion in clean energy investments.

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Trailing the commitments of Apple, Facebook, and Google, Amazon proclaimed “a long-term commitment” to 100% renewable energy. Speculators looked on with a weary eye, because unlike its competitors, Amazon has yet to delineate specific plans as to how it will achieve such a feat.

Nonetheless, as Amazon is the largest cloud computing company in the world, successful pursuit would be a tremendous gain for our atmosphere.

COP-21 & THE TECH TITANS:

The quest to green data centers comes at an opportune time, as COP-21 rapidly approaches. Corporations have been invited to participate at the negotiations, but attendance is seemingly unclear. As the tech titans of Silicon Valley further advance down the path towards 100% renewable energy, and such accomplishments continue to be publicized by the media, it seems reasonable to conclude that other industries will soon follow suit.

And lo and behold, companies such as Mars, Nestle, Unilever, H&M, and Ikea have also announced 100% renewable energy commitments.

As technology advances, it has become increasingly apparent that renewable energy can drive down costs for a company, proving that corporations can, indeed, “do good” and make money at the same time.


Featured Photograph by Thomas Hawk.

3 thoughts on “Tech Titans Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

  1. Hi TSI: Interesting and hopeful post. What would be hugely cool is if one of these tech giants would a) sponsor the National Hockey League (carbon neutral in its 2014-2015 season, huge purchaser of renewable energy through its deal with Constellation Energy, and b) promote the hell out of said sponsorship via TV and other advertising. My concern is that the great green work that these tech cos (and others) are doing is largely unknown by the general public (the ultimate stakeholders in climate change, no?) The question needs to be asked: Why are these companies not shouting louder about what they’re doing, green-wise, in the arena that gets the most awareness of all, 30 second ads?

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    • Hey greensportsblog!

      Good point about an affiliation with the NHL. And if one of the tech titans jumps on the greening-sports bandwagon, the rest will surely follow.

      Regarding the publicity – I would have thought that actually Apple, Google, Facebook have been pretty public with their efforts. It requires the end user to go to their websites, yes. But you can read about the initiatives and there are many press releases, etc. The Apple Googles, Facebook’s of the world aren’t using many – if any -commercials anyway. Perhaps I am not thinking outside the box here. What do you think these companies could be doing to be more public with their green efforts?

      Cheers,
      TSI

      Like

  2. Interesting that Shell Oil is thinking about changing their name and eliminating the oil, as they are more than 50% natural gas now – admittedly not renewable, but certainly cleaner.

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