A new report by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that more than 100 information and communication technology (ICT) companies are sourcing 14 percent of their electricity from renewable energy and by 2020 they could source up to 48 percent of their energy from renewable energy like solar and wind.
The new report, "Renewable Electricity Use by the U.S. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Industry,” looked at companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and other larger IT companies. In all, the companies studied consumed 1.5 percent of the U.S.’s electric supply in 2014. In the past Greenpeace had pressured some of the companies to use more clean energy, but this year it offered praise to Apple, Google, Facebook and others for their efforts to green their electric use.
"The ICT sector is a big consumer of electricity in the United States," NREL Senior Energy Analyst Jenny Heeter said. "ICT companies are increasingly making long-term commitments to renewable generation, such as through 20-year power purchase agreements." These long-term commitments often support the development of new renewable-energy generators near new data centers.
Some companies, including Google and Apple, have already committed to sourcing 100 percent of their power from renewable energy. As such they’ve made large investments into renewable energy like purchasing wind and solar farms or the energy from them.
"Twenty leading ICT companies have renewable electricity goals," NREL Analyst John Miller said. "Goals range in size from 8 percent to 100 percent renewable electricity use, with an average goal of approximately 64 percent."
The report found that financial incentives and corporate social responsibility goals at companies in the IT sector could encourage more of these companies to purchase renewable electricity or increase the amount of renewable energy they procure.
The report, the first of its kind, was based on companies reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership and/or to the Carbon Disclosure Project Worldwide. The report also only focusses on those companies that are reporting to the EPA and disclosure project. Other IT companies could also be using significant amounts of clean energy.
The picture is not complete. Data centers alone consume about 2 percent of the U.S.’s energy. That doesn’t include operations and manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that are producing equipment.
The report also noted that many IT companies have not yet taken action on using green energy. It said that sharing innovations, successes, and best practices that can help expand the use of renewable energy among other IT companies.Tweet