In the last few weeks a couple of interesting case studies for renewable energy in the Information Technology (IT) sector have popped up. Amazon has emerged this year as a player in renewable energy after receiving consistent criticism in the Greenpeace “Click Clean” Report. Meanwhile Google, an evergreen responsible business, has literally replaced a coal plant. This news comes amid some good news in renewable energy for my employer, Climate Friendly.

"assembly of Princeton wind turbine" by Mass. Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs on Flickr
“assembly of Princeton wind turbine” by Mass. Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs on Flickr

This week Amazon Web Services continued its “year of resurrection” with another fantastic renewable energy announcement. It recently announced a contract with Iberdrola Renewables to construct a 208 MW wind farm in North Carolina (United States). Expected to go online in December 2016, it is hoped to generate 670,000 MWh of wind energy per year. This initiative adds to its January announcement of a wind farm in Indiana (United States), which will generate 500,000 MWh per year. Amazon Web Services’ goal is for 100% renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, which is in line with most IT companies these days. Its milestone goal is 40% by the end of 2016.

But despite Amazon’s big numbers and respectable turnaround, Google’s recent news is more exciting. Its next renewable energy powered data centre is to be built on the grounds of a soon-to-be decommissioned coal power plant. In that sense, it is literally displacing coal. As a professional in the voluntary carbon industry, it makes me proud to say that my work puts renewable energy in place of fossil fuels. It is rousing that Google has in a way achieved this through its data centre location strategy.

"Green" by Dennis van Zuijlekom on Flickr
“Green” by Dennis van Zuijlekom on Flickr

This is why Climate Friendly is very excited about the potential for GoldPower in the IT sector. GoldPower is the first global renewable energy label (a video for GoldPower was launched last week, with Microsoft and SAP named as buyers, a product developed by Climate Friendly. It is ideal for the sourcing of renewable energy in Asia, which lacks the deregulated energy market systems that have made it so attractive in the United States.

This has been the message of my manager James Lewis throughout his heavy involved with the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Centre over the last 12 months. James brought good news recently when he announced his selection onto the BRC’s Advisory Panel. He always returns from his United States trips excited about how renewable energy is on the cusp of becoming the next big sustainability trend, following in the footsteps of the stranded carbon asset risk movement for the finance industry. The IT sector is a massive part of that, and will continue to be a significant in the immediate term – according to Fujitsu Australia’s latest ICT Sustainability Benchmark Report, the IT sector is expected to represent 8-10% of global energy demand by 2020. A big responsibility.

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