It is a truth that everyone in the world knows that our planet is facing quite an alarming climate change crisis today. And it’s also a truth that we all know that massive corporations all over the world played a big role in this environmental destruction. Because of that, some corporations have decided to mend their ways and find a solution to help save the environment. And one of the solutions that a lot of these corporations have chosen is by hopping onto the solar energy train.
As the name suggests, solar energy is a form of renewable energy that harnesses the light and heat from the sun to create electricity. As of right now, there are multiple technologies that utilize solar energy, some of the most common ones being solar heating, photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, and solar architecture.
It’s actually good to hear about the news that more and more corporations are starting to integrate solar energy into their companies. This is because solar energy helps contribute to long-term cost savings as well as reduce a company’s carbon footprint, thus helping save the environment. In fact, it has been reported that the amount of solar installed by companies in the United States alone can offset up to 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That’s a really big number that will definitely help our planet in the long run.
Related article: Top Solar Statistics You Need to Know in 2019
Ten Corporations That Have Gone Big on Solar
Another thing that we should note about this trend of companies going solar is the fact more consumers nowadays gravitate towards brands that are socially responsible. In other words, if a particular company goes solar in order to become more eco-friendly, then that company becomes incredibly attractive to consumers. It’s a win-win situation — for both the company and the environment itself.
To give you an even deeper insight into this matter, here is a list of ten corporations — according to SEIA — that have recently gone big on solar
Impressively, Apple has been able to be globally powered by 100% renewable energy as of 2018. This achievement encompasses retail stores, offices, data centers, and co-located facilities in 43 countries. Additionally, they have announced nine additional manufacturing partners who have committed to power all of their Apple production with 100% clean energy, thus bringing the total number of supplier commitments to 23.
Aside from that, the company also engages in sustainability projects that involve a wide range of energy sources, such as solar arrays and wind farms. When combined, the total generation capacity is a whopping 626 MW. And Apple is not planning to just stop at that: the company also has 15 more projects in construction, including a $300 million solar system project in China. Once that project is finished, it can give back over 1.4 GW of clean renewable energy across 11 countries.
By the end of 2018, Apple had a total of 393.3 MW of installed solar energy capacity, topping Amazon and Target. This number made Apple as the leading company of solar installations in the U.S.
The e-commerce giant is also getting on the solar energy train so as to keep business costs low, which will then provide more savings to customers. As of right now, Amazon has started construction of solar and wind farms that will generate up to 3.6 MW/hours of renewable energy each year. Aside from that, the company has begun hosting large-scale rooftop solar systems on fulfillment centers all over the country. And by 2020, they have aimed to have more than 50 fulfillment centers with rooftop solar installed.
Target is the second-largest department store retailer in the United States, and the company has always been interested in sustainable buildings. That is why back in 2003, they had their first solar installation, and now they have more than 200 MW of installed capacity. Target aims to continue its progress by working to have rooftop solar panels in 500 of its buildings by 2020.
Aside from that, Target is also actively investing in projects around the country that produce electricity through renewable resources, such as the sun and the wind. In fact, they have over 350 complete solar projects as of right now. And finally, Target has made an ambitious and impressive goal of committing to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. This goal applies to all of the company’s domestic operations, such as stores, distribution centers, and offices.
Just like Target, Walmart Inc. is a retail corporation that has been committed to solar for a long time now — about more than a decade, to be specific. Their dedication to solar can be seen in their extensive efforts to being more energy-efficient, such as numerous solar installations and the construction of eco-roofs. As of right now, the company has installed about 240 solar projects, which saves approximately $4.8 million, and they are planning to create more than 1,000 projects worldwide.
Since January 2016, Switch data centers have run on 100% renewable energy, and the company aims to continue that practice. In the same year of 2016 as well, Switch began construction of two solar power stations in Las Vegas, Nevada with a combined 179 MW capacity. These facilities have been able to remove the equivalent of 50,000 cars off the road and eliminate 265,000 carbon tons of emissions from the environment. By the end of 2018, the company is ranked fifth in the top ten companies that are turning to solar energy.
Google has been carbon neutral for over a decade, and since 2010, the company has signed 26 agreements to purchase nearly 3 GW of new renewable energy. That is equivalent to taking more than 1.3 million cars off the road every year. That endeavour allowed Google to reach 100% renewable energy for its operations, including both data centers and offices.
By the end of 2018, Google was able to have an installed capacity of 142.9 MW, thus ranking sixth in the SEIA’s top ten companies who are turning to solar. With this milestone, the company was able to offset 17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2016, Kaiser Permanente adopted an ambitious set of environmental goals that they want to achieve by 2025. Some of the highlight goals include becoming “carbon net positive” by buying enough clean energy and carbon offsets; recycling, reusing or composting 100% of their non-hazardous waste; and pursuing new collaborations. And of course, the company also aims to deploy onsite solar wherever it’s cost-effective. In fact, by the end of 2018, Kaiser Permanente was able to have an installed capacity of 140 MW. They will continue to up that number in the years to come so as to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
Prologis is a multinational logistics real estate investment trust, and the company has been slowly turning underutilized rooftops into sources of clean energy. In 2017, Prologis had a total of 120.7 MW of installed capacity, thus ranking the company third among all U.S. companies for solar installations. And as of December 2018, they were able to bring the number up to 186 MW. All the installations that Prologis has achieved can produce enough energy to power 26,000 U.S. homes, which is an impressive feat.
Solvay in advanced materials and specialty chemicals company that is committed to developing chemistry that addresses key societal challenges. With that company description, of course, Solvay takes sustainability seriously. And in order to meet their ambitious objectives in terms of carbon emission reductions, the company champions both saving energy and sourcing more renewable power.
In 2017, one of their primary initiatives to source more renewable power is a solar farm that was built in South Carolina. This solar farm can provide enough power for 15,000 households, or 164,000 MWh a year, thus offsetting about 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And by the end of 2018, Solvay was able to reach an installed capacity of 81.4 MW, which they plan to improve in the years to come.
Fifth Third Bank
In 2017, Fifth Third Bank announced its operational sustainability goals that will promote a sustainable environment. Their goals are all about reducing energy use by 25%, greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, landfill waste by 20%, water usage by 20%, and purchasing 100% renewable power by 2022. And in 2018, they were able to achieve one of their goals when they signed a contract leading to 100% renewable energy through solar power. That is why by the end of the same year, Fifth Third Bank made SEIA’s list of top companies that are turning to solar, with an installed capacity of 80 MW.
With our environment slowly but surely deteriorating, it is nice to know that we are trying our very best to help save it. It’s even more uplifting to hear about massive corporations all over the world doing everything in their power to be sustainable and eco-friendly. This is because hearing about all these endeavours gives us hope that maybe it’s not yet too late to save our environment. Maybe there’s still something that we can do.
That is the philosophy that the ten companies mentioned above embodied. And hopefully, in the next years to come, there will be more and more corporations who will follow their lead. In times like this when our planet is dying, it’s getting more crucial than ever for us to stand together as one to combat climate change.
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Ford (NYSE: F) announced the completion of an on-site solar power and energy storage system that will provide clean electricity at itsMichigan Assembly Plant.
The renewable energy captured by the system will help power the production of Ford’s all-new Focus set to hitshowrooms this month. The plant will also produce Focus Electric, Ford’s firstzero-emission battery electric passenger vehicle and the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAXEnergi plug-in hybrid.
The solar energy system will serve asa pilot alternative energy project to be evaluated for possible use at otherFord manufacturing facilities in the future.
“This solar energy system allowsus to test the viability of alternative energy to supply power for ourmanufacturing facilities around the world. It serves as a significantinitiative within our corporate emphasis on sustainability,” said JimTetreault, Ford vice president, North America Manufacturing.
Ford collaborated with DTE Energy toinstall the 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system at Michigan Assembly.The system will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility thatcan store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries–enough to power 100average Michigan homes for a year. The project will also include a50-kilowatt-hour facility to demonstrate the potential reuse of vehicleelectric batteries for stationary energy storage.
Michigan Assembly’s energy storagesystem also will be able to recharge from the smart grid during off-peak hourswhen energy is available at a lower cost. This in turn can provide inexpensivepower during peak operating hours when the cost per kilowatt-hour is usuallyhigher, and can help reduce peak demand on the grid.
Xtreme Power of Austin, Texas, issupplying its Dynamic Power Resource on-site energy storage and powermanagement system.
The Michigan Assembly project isfunded by a $3 million investment from DTE Energy’s SolarCurrentsprogram, a $2 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission insupport of the state’s smart-grid initiative, and approximately $800,000 worthof in-kind contributions from Ford.
Ford will install 10 electric vehiclecharging stations at Michigan Assembly to demonstrate advanced battery chargingtechnologies for vehicles using renewable energy and other smart-grid advances.The stations will be used to recharge the electric switcher trucks thattransport vehicle parts between adjacent buildings at the manufacturing site.Part of the pilot project involves a demonstration of the possibility for usingelectrified vehicle batteries as stationary power storage devices after theiruseful life as vehicle power sources is over.
Google’s foundation, Google.org, has made it widely known that itintends to aid the progression of renewable energy development in anyway possible. The company is pushing for quicker development ofrechargeable vehicles through its Recharge IT Project and, though its RE<C program, is trying to develop one gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity in the next few years at a price that ischeaper than one GW of coal-based electricity. (One GW is enough topower a city roughly the size of San Francisco for a full day.) Each ofthese initiatives is part of Google.org’s Clean Energy 2030 Plan — aproposal on how to shift the global economy from one that depends onfossil fuels to one that is based on clean energy.
RE<C, or “renewable energy cheaper than coal,” is arguably themost important of all of the company’s programs, as it deals with thegreatest obstacle between us and wide-scale renewable energy use:cost. Here are three main steps Google.org is taking through RE<C tomake renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels:
1. Give grants to and invest in companies andtechnologies working toward making renewable energy more affordable than energy produced at coal-fired plants.
2. Support public policies that accelerate renewable energy development.
3. Use its own technology to spread information and raise awareness about the benefits of renewable sources of energy.
In 2008, Google invested over $45 million through RE<C alone incompanies it views as having breakthrough technologies in solar energy,wind and geothermal power. Google is also sponsoring a project to create what it calls the first, “Geothermal Map of the World.” The map willhelp reveal resources underground that are currently hard to detect, and show an area’s potential to develop and deploy clean energy. Check out this video to see how the map would work.
The Clean Energy 2030 Plan was first introduced in October 2008 and is far from over, as Google sees the need for $4.4 trillion in investment between now and 2030.
Above, a graph from Google.Org’s RechargeIT Project
The nation’s most popular and influential sports leagues have teamedup to take on climate change by adopting solar energy at theirvenues and promoting awareness of the benefits of solar power.
The heads of five U.S. professional sports leagues — Major LeagueBaseball, the National Football League, the National BasketballAssociation, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer —distributed a Solar Electric Energy Guide for Stadiums and Arenas to all 140 teams in the five leagues combined. The guide was recentlypublished by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and theBonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF).
Solar panels line the outter walls of AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants.
The guide goes into step-by-step detail onhow to go about installing solar energy systems at sporting venues. Itcovers everything from solar cost estimates and financing options, tohow to find and purchase panels. Also included is a discssion on therate of return and payback for solar power systems in the U.S. Not to be overlooked, the guide also offers information on how solar energysystems help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz sees the backing of solarenergy by professional sports leagues as evidence of a broader trend inthe U.S. toward a mainstream renewable energy future:
“The distribution of solar powerdevelopment guides by all professional sports leagues reflects a realcultural shift in our thinking about energy that is taking placethroughout the business community and the nation at large.”
Even before the guide was distributed, some teams had already partnered with solar companies or installed solarenergy systems at their venues. In April of this year, for example, theNHL’s San Jose Sharks made Canadian Solar Inc. the official sponsor of their Stanley Cup playoff bid. In early August, the NFL’s New England Patriots installed a 525-kilowatt (kW) solar energy system at Patriot Place in Massachusetts, the team’s hall of fame.
Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, is equipped with solar panels.
And the Staples Center in Los Angeles,California, home to three teams within the five leagues, has a 345.6-kWsolar energy system on its roof that, over the next 25 years, isexpected to eliminate over 10,000 tons of greenhouse gases.
Other teams that have integrated solar energy at their home stadiumsinclude MLB’s San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Boston RedSox and Washington Nationals, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns andDenver Nuggets, and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
Apple has set its sights on the sun as a power source in the past, and another big project is on the horizon. CEO Tim Cook announced Tuesday at a Goldman Sachs technology conference that the company is investing roughly $850 million in the California Flats Solar Project, a solar farm to be built by First Solar in Monterey County in California.
“We know in Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk is passed,” Cook said. “The time for action is now.”
The technology company has partnered with First Solar to create a solar farm that can provide energy to run its new headquarters in Cupertino (currently being built), all of its California retail stores and a data center, as well as 60,000 homes in the state.
Both are teaming up to build two 20-megawatt solar projects in China’s Sichuan province — which is a first, although together they’ve built six in America totaling 90 megawatts. Construction is already underway and feeding 2 megawatts back to the grid, but should be finished by the end of 2015.
It’s the latest in a line of joint ventures and manufacturing facilities SunPower has set for China, which itself happens to Earth’s largest renewable energy investor. Did I mention that Apple is also Earth’s largest company by market value? Bloomberg certainly did, when reporting the promising deal. So should we all.
In my corporate solar report card and analysis, Apple emerged a clear leader among the mammoth multinationals walking (or merely talking) the solarization walk. And that was after it gave First Solar $850 million to build solar farms in the so-called homeland. The international dimension of this subsequent team-up with America’s second-largest solar manufacturer makes Apple an international solarizer worth taking as seriously as China itself, which last year led the world in solar installations.
“This is a tremendous groundbreaking collaboration, bringing together a diverse group of experienced partners from different parts of the globe to build renewable solar energy ventures that contribute to the local economy and the environment,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner said in SunPower’s announcement. “These projects will provide clean, renewable energy, help address climate change, and continue to provide agricultural benefits to the local farmers, while protecting the area’s precious land. We continue to value our partnership with Apple and commend them for their global environmental commitment.”
It’s a commitment to solarization that should be emulated by everyone, unlike the polarization that characterizes America’s sad solar war with China. As oil continues to decouple from the U.S. economy, which is adding solar jobs at 10 times the national average, these international agreements for the future good should become less rare. Evidently, we can all just get along.
Rikki Suarez majors in Creative Writing and loves writing about renewable energy, clean technology, and solar power.