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Tech Firms Drive a Renewable Energy Boom

19 Nov 16:00 by Steve Walia

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The digital world requires a huge amount of energy to keep powering the data storage, servers and vast data centres operated across the world by big brands such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. All the hardware needs to be kept cool by a huge array of AC units and fans.

The good news is, however, that the leaders of these businesses and the shareholders that own them are keen to make the switch to cleaner energy sources as fast as possible. Bloomberg has recently reported that the tech industry has now contracted for more green energy than any other sector across the world. Currently, it is responsible for sourcing over 2,500 MW of clean energy and has signed up an additional 10.4 GW of renewable power this year alone.

The biggest global consumer of clean energy is Google at 3GW, and Facebook is at number two with 2GW. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all have 1GW of needs each. Consider that a standard nuclear energy plant can produce c.1GW of electricity.

Another key driver is the Internet of Things. IHS Markit has estimated that 27 billion devices are now connected to the internet, and that number is expected to grow exponentially to 138 billion in the next ten years. This means that tech businesses will become increasingly important customers of energy-producing utility firms. Already, data centres alone take 3pc of the total electricity consumed in the developed world.

This helps to explain why many new data centres are being built in Scandinavia, where hydropower is available on a large scale and where temperatures are naturally lower, which reduces the cooling load required to run each centre. This trend may well also help to drive the energy sector in the Nordics in coming years.