It’s more important than ever for everyone to play their part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But it’s also pretty common for people to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge. This leaves many people wondering if their individual actions really have much of impact. The true power of individual action, of course, is when lots of individuals take action! So let’s talk about your personal renewable energy commitment. I know, I know, you might be thinking it would be more effective to get big corporations on board because of their super-sized usage and impact. But let’s take a closer look at how your personal renewable energy commitment compares to big tech.
The biggest tech companies do have a huge impact on energy consumption through their operations. Let’s take just a quick look at two of them: Apple and Amazon.
The image featured at the top of this article is of Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino CA. Fully 100% of its power supply is from renewable sources, including the 17-megawatt rooftop solar installation seen in the photo. Impressive, right? But even better is that Apple has achieved 100% renewable energy across all its operations, as it announced in its 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report released in April of that year. This includes all the company’s offices, retail stores, and data centers.
What’s left to achieve for Apple? Those operations covered by renewable energy only account for about 26% of its total carbon footprint. The other 74% comes from its suppliers. In the 2018 report, Apple said it was pushing its suppliers to follow suit. In the company’s 2019 report, it said 44 of its suppliers have agreed to follow the same commitment. But Apple’s 2018 Supplier List includes the top 200 suppliers around the world that account for 98% of its procurement expenditures on materials, manufacturing, and assembly of its products. There are many more than 200. In other words, it has a long way to go in getting its supply chain on board with renewable energy.
Amazon announced its 100% renewable energy commitment in 2014. However, it’s important to note from the outset that its commitment is very focused on its cloud computing division called Amazon Web Services (AWS).
I don’t mean to take away from the significance of the commitment because it would be a huge victory given that AWS controls 41.5% of the public cloud as measured by application workload. Among its million+ customers are Netflix, Unilever, Adobe, Kellogg’s, Airbnb, and many other big-hitters. So yes, it would be huge.
But AWS has so far only achieved 50% renewable energy usage as of 2018 (source). The basic issue is that it’s constantly increasing the amount of power it needs faster than it’s investing in its renewable energy commitment. As a result, AWS has become a lightning rod for criticism from Greenpeace, which you can read about here and here.
If you think about what Amazon’s supply chain must look like as the planet’s largest retailer (it beat Walmart for the first time this year to take the #1 position), you can understand why its renewable energy commitment has been limited to AWS. Not to mention all the shipping involved in moving all those orders.
Let’s put the renewable energy efforts of Amazon and Apple into perspective. Amazon has built nine renewable energy projects so far for a total of 718 megawatts. But when it’s latest three wind farms come online, that total will bump up to 2,700,000 megawatts of clean energy. It is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of about 262,000 average homes. Apple’s renewable energy projects currently amount to 600 megawatts (it purchases the rest from clean power suppliers), and yet that’s still a huge direct investment for a non-energy company.
So how about YOU? As impressive as these feats of the tech giants are, we could make serious progress towards slowing, stopping and maybe even reversing global warming and climate change if more people would make a stronger personal renewable energy commitment. Or at least start by drastically cutting the amount of energy consumed. Doing both is even better! Here some ways NEEECO can help:
In the battle against global warming and climate change, the stakes don’t get any higher – our planet’s ability to sustain life hangs in the balance. And the really good news is that improving energy efficiency in your home will also save you money! Now that’s what we call a win-win scenario that’s good for you and the planet! NEEECO invites you to boost your personal renewable energy commitment through one or more of our services.
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