IBM's renewable energy usage revelation

Lots of people read this green tech blog and probably nobody more closely than the big technology vendors themselves. Thus the source of this latest entry.

Lots of people read this green tech blog and probably nobody more closely than the big technology vendors themselves. Thus the source of this latest entry.

Last week, I wrote about both Google’s strange-but-true detour into the field of renewable energy, which it has dubbed “Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal.” I also put together a brief entry about Hewlett-Packard’s latest solar energy and wind power investments, which it will bring its electricity purchases from alternative energy sources up into the realm of 50 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy this year. Well, it wasn’t long before I heard from IBM. Not with any particular news, but with a revelation that I felt it my duty to pass along.

So, here’s the thing, according to Mike Maloney, the media relations fellow charged with spreading IBM’s green credo: IBM bought a whopping 386 million kilowatts of renewable in 2006. This year, it will likely surpass more than 450 million kilowatts.

Some more details for some more perspective.

In the United Kingdom, IBM is operating under a two-year contract that has shifted a majority of the company’s electricity supply in that country to renewable sources including biomass, wind and plants that provided combined heat and power generation. In the Netherlands, all of IBM’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources. In Australia, the figure is around 4 percent, Maloney reports.

On home turf, it looks like HP has IBM beat -- at least in the sense that it is directly participating in the creation of new renewable energy sources. In HP’s case, the installation of a 1-megawatt solar electric power system at its facility in San Diego.

And what about IBM? In the United States, Maloney says the company has been unable to find many cost-effective renewable sources. So, in this country, it is combining conservation with the purchase of renewable energy credits. Maloney says these efforts amount to an offset of the carbon dioxide associated with producing 96 million kilowatts of energy.

And as various facilities relationships come up for renewal, IBM is reconsidering its electricity sourcing arrangements around the globe.

So, mark that down for the record. And, remind me to watch both companies carefully for their follow through not just on corporate initiatives like this but on what each vendor is doing to make its own technology more environmentally sound.