Data center providers Switch and Equinix have received a 2019 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with hyperscale operators Google and Microsoft and chipmaker Intel.
The annual awards recognize America’s leading users of renewable energy. The EPA announced the award today at the 2019 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in San Diego, Calif.
Switch was recognized with the Excellence in Green Power Use Award, while Equinix and Microsoft were cited for Direct Project Engagement. Google was named Partner of the Year, while Intel was feted for Sustained Excellence in Green Power Use.
The program recognizes companies that procure green power from a utility green power product, a power purchase agreement, or a renewable energy certificate (REC) product.
Switch made its first appearance on the EPA list, and is currently purchasing almost 587 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of about 55,000 average American homes annually. These power purchases meet 100 percent of the electricity required to power Switch’s data centers.
“Switch’s data centers have been powered by 100% clean energy since January 2016, utilizing the practice of using local, new resources for its renewable energy needs, which is smart for our business and smart for our environment,” said Switch EVP of Strategy Adam Kramer.
Other recipients noted for their application of green energy to data centers included:
- Google was recognized for partnering with the state of Georgia and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to bring new wind and solar projects onto electrical grids. Google has signed 26 long-term agreements totaling nearly 3 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar energy that is new to the grid around the world.
- Equinix was recognized for reaching 100% green power use across all U.S. sites and offices in 2018, with a total of 2.2 gigawatt hours procured, representing a 46 percent increase over 2017 volume. Half of the company’s green power use (approximately 225 MW) was in the form of long-term Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) contracts, which delivered new wind power to the grid in the middle of the country.
- Microsoft has been powered by 100 percent renewable electricity since 2014 by purchasing more than 3 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually. The company increased purchases of green power by 780 million kWh since their last award.
- Intel uses more than 3.8 billion kWh of green power annually in the U.S. supplied by a diverse portfolio including on-site projects, utility programs, and certified renewable energy certificates (RECs). Intel has been a Green Power Partner since 2004 and has been recognized many times previously for their leadership in the green power market.
As cloud computing platforms become some of the largest consumers of electricity, they are shifting to solar and wind to power their servers. Over the past several years, Switch and hyperscale Internet operators including Google, Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Microsoft have bought huge amounts of renewable energy to power their data center operations, creating demand for new solar and wind generation projects.
Last year Switch was cited by Greenpeace for its leadership on renewable energy, which includes use of 100 percent renewable energy for all of its data centers, its advocacy for policies that support renewable energy, and its transparency in reporting greenhouse gas emissions on a per-site basis.
EPA noted that Switch’s accomplishments included:
- Working with NV Energy to create Nevada’s first green tariff in 2015 to allow businesses to purchase renewable energy through the utility
- In 2017, Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2 solar power plants, with a combined generation capacity of 179 MW were fully commissioned.
- In 2018, Switch worked with Consumers Energy to develop a green tariff in Michigan with the operation of Cross Winds Energy Park II which generates 44 MW of renewable energy from which they receive 12,569,219 kWh of green power annually.