The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its latest ranking of the top green power purchasers in the US. The list is once again led by Intel, with over 2.5 billion kWh of green electricity purchased, the same as a year ago, accounting for 88% of the company’s total electricity use.
Other ICT companies seem to be slipping down the rankings, though. In the top 50, Cisco was down from 11th to 15th place with 268m kWh purchased – slightly down on last year, Sprint was up to 26th place, (176m kWh – 5% of power used), Dell down to 43rd (114m kWh – 28%) and Google 47th (103m kWh, 5%). Google is a new entrant to the top 50, whilst Motorola has dropped out.
The green power rankings are based on on-site generation, purchasing green power from utilities, and buying renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). I’m not a fan of RECs. Although they encourage the development of renewable energy, they tend to distort the market – companies pay for the extra cost of renewable generation, rather than for the power itself. But then again, with green power in short supply there wouldn’t be enough to go round anyway.
But the use of RECs explains why Dell used to purchase 129% of its power from green sources, according to these EPA rankings. In fact the EPA has produced a long list of companies that have 100% (or more) green power.
Perhaps more interesting, and a better reflection of the efforts to be green, is the EPA’s ranking of the top 20 companies in terms of the power they generate on-site. The highest-placed IT company is Adobe Systems, which generates 11.6m kWh of electricity on site from biogas. That’s 17% of its total power needs. Google purchases almost as much – 10.7m kWh, from biogas and solar, although it accounts for less than 1% of the power the company uses.