Tech companies becoming dominant clean power purchasers

Giant tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple are now the largest clean power corporate buyers. The director of global strategic customers at Iberdrola, Eduardo Insunza, said that these companies’ influence is enormous since they have superior market power.

Tech companies consume a lot of power since their data entries require more energy for keeping the servers cool. The power consumption of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple is over 45 terawatt-hours per year. These companies’ usage is expected to increase with the addition of machine learning, and artificial intelligence requires extra computing energy.

The tech companies have also embraced the world’s climate targets. They are helping the governments to achieve carbon neutrality goals and net-zero carbon by 2050. Google was the first giant tech company to sign a power purchase agreement in 2010, and others followed. Entering into long-term power-purchasing contracts is more beneficial to large tech companies since they develop data centers that operate for a long. This is not a big issue for them since they have enough financial capacity.

Brad Smith, Microsoft president, said that there is tough competition on climate pledges between the big tech companies but says this is the best. He added that the company’s founder Bill Gates had influenced its climate position since he has climate change as his charitable work. By 2030, Microsoft has promised to be carbon negative and net-zero emissions by 2040. The company also targets that by 2015, it will have 100% renewable energy. This shows the company’s commitment to reducing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits. Microsoft will use technologies such as direct air capture that help to siphon CO2 from the sky.

Google is not left behind either.  The company has a target to attain carbon-free by 2030. Google said that it would use clean power from solar, wind, and hydropower to operate all its data centers. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, said running carbon-free data centers is a substantial undertaking, especially when considering the development of things. Google increased its power consumption by three times between 2013 and 2018. Pichai said that every company and everyone in the world is responsible for combatting climate change.

According to Small World Consulting and Lancaster University’s report last month, the IT sector contributes 1.8-2.8% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions by the IT sector are equivalent to the aviation sector emissions. In the US, data centers are the ones demanding more power.

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