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US agency updates list of top green power purchasers

Fifty companies and organisations in the United States purchase 12.5 TWh a year of green power.

The Green Power Partnership is managed by the US Department of Energy (DoE), to increase the use of renewable energy from a wide variety of organisations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to local, state and federal governments, and including a growing number of colleges and universities. Combined, the top 50 purchases amount to more than 12.5 TWh a year, which represents 70% of the green power commitments made by all EPA Green Power Partners.

The top company in the latest rating is Intel Corporation, which purchases 1,301,300,000 kWh of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas and small hydro power from Sterling Planet and PNM, as well as some on-site generation. This purchase represents 48% of the company’s energy.

Second spot is held by PepsiCo, which purchases 1,226,403,121 kWh from various technologies, but this represents 100% of its annual consumption. Kohl's Department Stores is next with 851,478,000 kWh (71% of total consumption), Whole Foods Market with 790,459,000 kWh (105%), Dell with 553,708,000 kWh (158%), City of Houston (TX) 438,000,000 kWh (34%), US Air Force 426,274,291 kWh (5%), Pepsi Bottling Group 426,239,848 kWh (100%), Cisco Systems 400,996,000 (46%), and the state of Pennsylvania with 400,000,000 kWh (40% of annual power consumption).

Other consumer brands in the top 50 include Johnson & Johnson, HSBC North America, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kimberly-Clark, DuPont, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, PepsiAmericas, Bloomberg, Staples, World Bank Group, Lowe's, Mohawk Fine Papers, Dannon, Lockheed Martin, WhiteWave Foods, Bank of New York Mellon, Safeway, Sprint Nextel, ING, Sony, Motorola, Herman Miller, AMD, and Citi.

“These green power purchases help reduce the environmental impacts of electricity use and support the development of new renewable generation capacity nationwide,” explains EPA. Purchase amounts reflect US operations only and are sourced from US-based green power resources.

Organisations can meet purchase requirements using any combination of Renewable Energy Certificates, on-site generation or utility green power products. A list of 100% Green Power Purchaser shows the combined green power purchases to be 5.5 TWh a year.

EPA differentiates between green power and renewable energy, noting that “green power is a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit.” EPA defines green power as electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

“Although the impacts are small, some renewable energy technologies have an impact on the environment,” such as large hydroelectric resources which can have environmental trade-offs associated with issues such as fisheries and land use. Fossil fuels have environmental costs from mining, drilling or extraction, and emit greenhouse gases and air pollution during combustion. Although nuclear generation emits no GHG, it does require mining, extraction, and long-term radioactive waste storage.

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program with 1100 partner organisations.

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