Leave it to Silicon Valley

Can the Fortune 500’s most globally integrated companies power all of their global operations on renewable energy?  

It turns out the answer is yes – and leave it to Silicon Valley to deliver not just one but two success stories this year. 

Just years after Google and Apple committed to going 100 percent renewable, the two tech titans announced they made good on their alternative energy targets during dual announcements in April. 

While both companies strive to achieve their goals and work toward generating their own onsite carbonless power, they don’t yet have the capacity to locally power each Apple and Google global location. What they have achieved is to contractually source 100 percent of their power from renewable providers by participating in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) marketplace.

In the simplest terms, a PPA is a legal contract between an electricity provider and an electricity user to do business together for a specified period in the future. If and when that PPA is converted into a Renewable Power Purchase Agreement (RPPA), the contract becomes a public declaration by the user to use renewable energy exclusively. 

Increasingly, many of the largest tech companies are using RPPAs to lock-up third-party renewable power available in the marketplace while they develop their own renewable infrastructure for solar and wind power energy.

For Google to reach its goal, it agreed to purchase three gigawatts of output from renewable providers – the largest renewable energy purchase by a corporate user in history and one that resulted in more than $3 billion in global renewable infrastructure investment.

According to TechSpot’s Cohen Coberly, “Google has essentially become truly carbon neutral.” 

Apple met the milestone by signing RPPAs with 23 suppliers and adding rooftop solar to its Cupertino headquarters.  The company now powers all global production – from its iPhones and MacBooks to component parts like polymers, magnets and solder masks – exclusively with carbonless power.

Of course, HCPV solar and other new developments are quickening the pace of corporate commitment by pushing the costs for levelized energy below those of carbon-based fuels for the first time, in history. 

Now all companies can follow Google’s and Apple’s lead.

Leslie Gomez