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Why big tech firms may be the power behind renewables

03 Jan 15:00 by Steve Walia

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The ongoing challenge to switch global energy needs to renewable sources may yet be driven by large tech firms such as Google and Apple. These companies want their brands to be ethical and desirable, which means maintaining a clean, efficient and environmentally-friendly operation.

This year, their vast energy demands - primarily to run data centres - will help to push the world's expansion of wind and solar technologies forwards. Apple has already bought up cheap areas of land in the US where it can build data centres close to sites for new renewable builds. Today, its entire business is operating on 100 per cent green energy, including its central campus - powered by solar panels - and its retail store network.

The IT sector is now buying so much clean and green energy - driven by other brands, including Microsoft and cloud-computing firms - that it is reshaping the sector as a whole. Together, their vast needs mean that the renewables industry has been able to become cost-competitive. It is expected that the trend will continue to gather pace in the coming year.

Around 20 of the world's biggest IT brands have already committed to becoming 100 per cent renewable in their operation, with their ethical stance having a significant impact. Greenpeace has confirmed that these actions are changing the marketplace as a whole, with utility providers adjusting their entire investment portfolios to step up to demands. IT buyers have helped to power 7GW of fresh renewable capacity online across the world thanks to their demand. 

Other companies are following in their lead, including Mars, Walmart, GM and Ford. Where big business leads, the world's governments may be forced to listen and follow suit.