Some of the largest multinational companies are leading efforts to a sustainable world. 122 companies have committed to the UN to become 100% renewable and companies such as Marks and Spencer (notably their plan A launched in 2007) and Sky having already made it while others such as Coca Cola Enterprises Inc. are fast approaching 100%.
I recently visited Silicon Valley and Seattle and saw what large companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon are doing.
Apple Park is a startling example of the company’s commitment to the environment. The entire complex can be powered by its gigantic solar array on its roofs as well as its biogas boilers and smart battery storage. The entire complex can operate off grid if needed with its smart microgird and 4MW battery providing it with resilience against events such as an earthquake. While the corporate HQ is something to behold, some might see it as a vanity project.
Apple however has committed to the use of 100% renewable energy and has met this target at all of its facilities worldwide (offices, retail and data centres). This is an incredible achievement from a global company and Apple have the aim to go further to become sustainable in its use of materials and with all of its suppliers too.
Google has been net carbon neutral for over a decade using Carbon offsets and in 2017 became 100% renewable with all its power needs coming from renewable sources. Sustainability is one of Google’s key objectives and it strives to create services that support sustainability in the things it does. Examples include using Google Maps to support environmental management fishery management and also circular economy in its datacentres. The company prides itself in maximising the efficiency of its data centres including power, water and materials. They claim their average data centre is 50% more efficient than competitors.
Google has invested over $3.5bn in developing its own power projects and as the below table shows is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world. Google actively state that tacking climate change is “an urgent global priority”.
I visited Amazon’s urban campus in December 2018 and sustainability is at the heart of Amazon’s company ethos. Three large bio-spheres are a prominent environmental impact statement which house tens of thousands of plants. This is a space for the 40,000 employees of Amazon that work in downtown Seattle to use. Commitments to recycling and efficiency such as using waste heat from a nearby datacentre are other commitments. Amazon too is committed to reaching 100% renewable status in the future and is investing in its own wind and solar projects globally to achieve this. In 2018, AWS (Amazon Web Services) which operate infrastructure like data centres reached 50% renewable status.
Despite political changes, the tech giants are forging ahead with renewable plan:
“In April 2016, Amazon joined Apple, Google, and Microsoft in filing a legal brief that supports the continued implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and discusses the technology industry’s growing desire for affordable renewable energy across the U.S.”