- Facebook said Thursday it had procured enough new renewable projects to meet 100% of energy needs for its global operations through clean resources, as of last year.
- The company has contracts in place for more than 6.1 GW of wind and solar across 18 states and five countries, within the same electric grids that power its data centers and operations. Of the energy contracted, Facebook said it currently has 2 GW of solar and 1.3 GW of wind online, along with 720 MW of energy storage.
- The company set a goal in 2018 to support its global operations through 100% clean energy by 2020. In 2018, Facebook was 75% of the way toward that goal, and it had 86% renewable capacity by the end of 2019, according to a sustainability overview from the company.
Facebook was the largest U.S.-based corporate buyer of renewable energy in 2018 and 2019, according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). Its renewable procurement goal makes it one of the largest corporate buyers of renewables in the world, although it fell behind Amazon, Google, Verizon and McDonald's for deals in 2020.
On the whole, corporate procurements have more than quintupled in the last five years, according to REBA's deal tracker for procurement mechanisms such as green tariffs, power purchase agreements, direct ownership, bilateral utility deals, energy buyer tax equity investment and green power purchases.
More tech companies focused on powering their data centers sustainably, including Google, AT&T and Microsoft, have started announcing large numbers of deals
The largest corporate buyer of renewables in 2020 was Amazon, with 3.16 GW. The company is on track to reach 100% clean energy by 2025, Kara Hurst, Amazon's vice president of sustainability, said in a statement. In February, Amazon announced a 380 MW contract for offshore wind in Europe, the first corporate procurement for that resource by a U.S. based company.
Corporate interest in procuring renewables and storage is expected to continue expanding as more companies work toward their sustainability goals.
Even as corporate procurement is increasing, the goal posts are also moving for what companies should do to promote good stewardship of the climate, as the public's understanding of emissions is becoming more sophisticated, according to Leslie Samuelrich, president at Green Century Capital Management.
Companies are increasingly tracking indirect emissions, or emissions in their supply chain, their investments or other activity outside of their own operations. The entire carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important for consumers and investors as well as regulators, according to a recent article from FTI Consulting.
These emissions are simpler to track for a tech company with operations primarily based around data centers, while a company that has a retail component, such as Amazon, will have to figure out a way to reduce emissions on the shipping and transportation components of its operations, Samuelrich said.
Tech companies can also make a big impact on climate and sustainability by prioritizing carbon-free policy through their large lobbying resources, according to Boston-based Green Century. Tech companies "have enormous capacity, they would have the ears of legislators and regulators, and it's time for them to flex their muscles," Samuelrich said in an interview with Utility Dive.
In 2018, Facebook announced a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75% from 2017 levels by 2020. The company has reduced emissions 94% thus far, according to its Thursday release, sent in anticipation of Earth Day.
Facebook continues to work toward a net zero emissions goal for its entire value chain in 2030.