Greenpeace released its Cool IT Leaderboard on Feb. 8, which ranks information technology (IT) IT companies across the world for their commitment and actions toward supporting clean energy like wind and solar. The leader, Google, Inc. scored highest, receiving 53 points. Google was followed closely by Cisco Systems Inc., which received 49 points, and Telefonaktiebolaget L. M. Ericsson and Fujitsu Ltd., each of which scored 48 points.
This marks the fifth time that Greenpeace has issued the ratings, which looks at IT companies’ commitments to clean energy in three categories: solutions, energy impact and advocacy.
Google ranked highest for its political advocacy work for more renewables and its commitments to renewable energy. The other top three companies scored higher in the solutions category than did Google.
“The electricity use of these [data centers] is already the equivalent of the fifth largest country in the world,” said Gary Cook, IT analyst for Greenpeace.
With the growth of data centers and cloud computing around the world, the figure is set to quadruple over the coming years. “Which may be OK if they’re not increasing the demand of dirty energy,” he said.
That’s why the work these companies are doing to reduce the impact of the reliance on polluting energy from coal and other fossil fuel generators is critical. IT companies need to be advocating for more solar and wind and getting into the policy debate to help change the rules and encourage more distributed generation, Cook said.
That’s one of the reasons Google topped the list.
“They have some solar on their headquarters, but their bigger clean energy investment is with wind,” Cook said. “They also have a relatively high amount of their infrastructure being powered by solar.”
Google also really stepped up its efforts to support clean energy policy. The company sees electricity as a critical part its global footprint and is taking steps to ensure that its carbon footprint is lighter.
“They’re taking a critical role in shaping the supply chain,” Cook said. The company doesn’t want to leave the move to clean energy up to the hands of utilities.
The search engine giant also won some points for its hundreds of millions in investments in solar and wind projects, which don’t directly affect its use of energy.
“There are 10 points allocated for its investments,” Cook said. “Those are investments; those aren’t things that are tied to managing their footprint. Those are investments that are driving clean energy, which is great. We need to have more leadership like that as well.”
Other companies, like Sharp and Softbank, are also leading the move to invest in solar. Sharp, which makes PV modules, has an interest in seeing its PV business grow. Softbank, a Japanese company, recently changed its corporate charter after talking with its board to allow the company to invest in solar, according to Cook.
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