Renewable Power Solutions for the ICT Sector: ReportWe Mean Business
In the wake of the growing momentum generated by the COP21 summit, several information communication and technology (ICT) companies have taken bold emissions-cutting steps in 2016 and came forward with public commitments to renewable energy.
The RE100 campaign annual progress report, published last month, showed that among its 53 participating companies , ICT companies are the “closest to reaching their 100% renewable electricity goals (on average they are 64% of the way there).”
The balance of powering data centers, ensuring electricity stability, and cutting down on costs and emissions, though, is a tough challenge for many companies.
A new paper released by BSR on Tuesday showed that many ICT giants have already pioneered effective solutions for a specific market sector: colocation data centers (colos), which are data centers where equipment, space, and bandwidth can be rented by companies or private customers.
The report analyzes how colos can be powered by renewable energy and what tools are immediately available for both providers and customers to increase the demand for renewables in the ICT field.
Companies such as Adobe, Autodesk, Facebook, Salesforce, and Switch—all colo users—have already committed to power their operations with 100% renewable energy.
Joining campaigns such as RE100 and making public commitments is an important step towards breaking the famous “Catch-22” within renewable power generation: renewable power is costly as it is still not widespread—and it is not widespread because it is costly.
As groups of organizations, businesses, and leaders committed to environmental stewardship keeps expanding and investing in renewable power, its demand continues growing, further supporting the development of new and cheaper technologies and deployment tools.
The BSR report takes a deep dive into the solutions currently available for colo users with specific reference to power purchase agreements (PPAs) and renewable energy certificates (RECs).
Renewable Energy Certificates or Power Purchase Agreements?
Utilities purchasing RECs in the name of colo users can choose between bundled or unbundled RECs, a key difference for market development. Bundled RECs require the utility to purchase both the power and the RECs directly from the renewable power station, thus supporting further development of renewable power generation in that area.
Unbundled RECs do not require the utility to purchase power from the same energy producer, which often happens when there is a wider distance between the two contractors. Colo users can therefore have a big impact by asking the utility to purchase only bundled RECs.
The report also stresses two key principles for renewable power purchase: additionality and locality. It states, “Colo users want renewable projects to be new and additional, providing clean power to the grid in the same region of the colo facility’s operations.”
Another option available to colos is having an off-site Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This is a useful alternative to having an on-site power station, which could be either cost-ineffective or not feasible due to the area where the data centers are based.
Each colo will have to be treated uniquely, but there is no doubt that targeted solutions for each situation are already available—an important step towards fueling the expanding technology sector with 100% clean energy.