Can the IT industry catalyze the shift to renewable energy?
The information technology sector faces quite a conundrum when it comes to energy.
On one hand, demand for new data centers and power-hungry storage mechanisms is growing at a rapid clip thanks to the proliferation of mobile and cloud technologies. And the data centers needed to keep popular tech companies up and running aren’t exactly light on energy consumption.
“Data centers are one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States,” according the the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In 2013, U.S. data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough electricity to power all the households in New York City twice over — and are on-track to reach 140 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020.”
The good news, however, is that tech companies also have shown more willingness than other sectors to compensate for some of that demand with increased investment in renewable energy.
At least 11 high tech firms, including Apple, Salesforce, Google and Facebook, have set 100 percent renewable energy goals. Although few of those companies have pinpointed a timeline for phasing out fossil fuels, plenty of other IT businesses are also working to cut their carbon footprint while also addressing perennial issues such as e-waste and heavy water consumption.
Hewlett-Packard, for instance, has signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA, to power its data center operations in Texas. That’s according to Chris Librie, who oversees the company’s Living Progress sustainability initiatives and discussed the energy deal during a GreenBiz Twitterchat this week, sponsored by HP.