Tag: renewable energy

Digital Supply Chain – Women in Supply Chain a chat with @circular_nomad and @supplychnqueen

As well as running the Digital Supply Chain podcast, and the Industry 4.0 themed series of podcasts, I decided to also spin up a new series – themed around the topic of Women in Supply Chain. This series will strive to highlight the stories of women leaders in Supply Chain to attempt to address the current imbalance in their representation on panels, podcasts, etc.

Kicking off this series, I invited Sheri Hinesh (@supplychnqueen on Twitter), and Deborah Dull (@circular_nomad on Twitter) to join me for the inaugural podcast, as they have their own very successful Supply Chain podcast Supply Chain Revolution.

We had an awesome conversation covering topics as diverse as the impact of digital goods, the transition of our energy systems to clean energy, sustainable supply chains and the circular economy.

Listen to the podcast using the player above ☝🏻, and/or see the full transcript below 👇🏻:

Sheri Hinesh [00:00:00] And when you think about sustainability through the lens of supply chain and even digital, 50 to 80 percent of the revenue spend happens in supply chain. And so, do, up to 85 percent of the environmental impacts, social impacts of supply chain. so, who better then than us as supply chain practitioners who have that end-to-end interconnected view of the world of business, of the communities where we operate to really do something epic?

Tom Raftery [00:00:32] Good morning. Good afternoon, or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the Digital Supply Chain podcast, and I am your host Tom Raftery

Tom Raftery [00:00:41] Hi, everyone, welcome to the Digital Supply Chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery. This is the first of a new series that we’re going to run on Women in supply chain. And with me, I have two of the highest profile women in supply chain today, Deborah and Sherri. Deborah and Sherri, would you like to introduce yourselves?

Deborah Dull [00:00:59] Hello, I’m Deborah Dull. Thanks, Tom, for having us on. The most important supply chain related introduction about me is that I have a deep love for inventory.

Tom Raftery [00:01:12] Fascinating, fascinating, and that laugh there is from Sherri, Sherri, would you like to introduce yourself?

Sheri Hinesh [00:01:17] Hello, world digital supply chain, folks. My name is Sherri Hinish, and my vision is to change the world through sustainable supply chain, evangelizing the SDGs and making the world a better place. The world that we share. I’m also affectionately called the Supply Chain Queen. And I have a podcast with Deborah called The Supply Chain Revolution, where we share provocative points of view that challenge paradigms for progress, say it three times.

Tom Raftery [00:01:50] so, Sherri for anyone who is unfamiliar because this is a digital supply chain podcast, not a sustainability podcast, so, people might not be aware. What are the SDGs?

Sheri Hinesh [00:02:04] Sure, so, the SDGs are a framework where we can achieve as the human race can achieve economic and social and environmental prosperity in the world that we share. And with everything happening right now with Covid-19. This is really important for us to understand that we’re all connected. And the SDGs are 17 interconnected goals that would help us to achieve a better world by 2030. so, this is really about the decade of action. How can we encourage a world that has no hunger, where we have economic growth and prosperities in the community where we operate, that supply chain touches? Responsible consumption, responsible production, where we protect life below water and life on land. And it’s really a beautiful vision. I’ve devoted my life to really sharing this picture and framework of a better world, that’s super tangible that people can connect to and that we can really mobilize each other in a meaningful way in the world we share. We have to get there. We have to get in the canoe. Deborah and I always talk about this like get in the canoe. We can do it and we need inspiration right now more than ever Tom.

Tom Raftery [00:03:30] No, I get that completely, I’m a former sustainability analyst for seven years or so, before I joined SAP, so, you know, you’re completely speaking my lingo here. But tell me, I mean, maybe, maybe. Deborah, jump in here. What does sustainability have to do with supply chain?

Deborah Dull [00:03:46] Great question. so, one of the topics that I love most, which is related to but different than sustainability, is the idea of a circular economy. And I’ll explain what that is briefly. But the answer to your question is that the way the world operates is through supply chains. so, every supply chain manager impacts the planet and impacts sustainability. And when you talk about financial sustainability, environmental sustainability, social sustainability, the choices we all make in our day to day impact that where we buy, how we buy, how we manage our suppliers, do we make bridges or do we hold people negatively accountable, for example? All comes back to the human connection that Sherri talked about, certainly. And when we talk about the concept of a circular economy, I think supply chains are uniquely positioned to really catapult the businesses and organizations that we support. And what I mean by that is if we look at the way the world works today, we take an item from the planet. We make something very efficiently, we use it. And then typically that item gets thrown away. And there’s a new economic model that says, hold on a second. All those items we’re throwing away, there’s actually more money to be had. We could squeeze more out of those materials and everybody makes more money. And so, if we think about the way to circulate and loop all of these materials and resources, even like heat or organics or plastics or metals, it’ll come down to supply chains, ability to find, circulate, move it, track it, bring it back. Is it socially responsible? Is it safe for human consumption? And I can’t think of a discipline more impacted than supply chain. And the flip side, who can impact more than supply chain can? We certainly have to work across material scientists and economists and those who design these systems. But if we look at the US workforce alone, 37 percent of jobs are supply chain related. And so, we have this massive cohort. And given that we’re such a new field, I think we haven’t really been considered like that at a global scale. And these days, though, it’s hard to read the news or turn on the radio without hearing the word supply chain every five minutes, which if I take my rose coloured glasses on here, I see it’s just a tremendous step forward for our field.

Sheri Hinesh [00:06:14] And Deborah, you make a great point. That supply chain is truly the conduit. And when you think about sustainability through the lens of supply chain and even digital, 50 to 80 percent of the revenue spend happens in supply chain. And so, do up to 85 percent of the environmental impacts, social impacts of supply chain. so, who better then than us as supply chain practitioners who have that end-to-end interconnected view of the world of business, of the communities where we operate to really do something epic? In the next wave in the supply chain revolution. This is this is our purpose right now, so, we’re super excited.

Deborah Dull [00:06:58] If think about Tom, if we think about the impacts of digital digital supply chain. so, actually, fun fact. I wrote my master’s thesis on the digital supply chain. But at the time this was *mumbles* years ago, it was actually about digital goods. so, I talked to Amazon, the Kindle team, I talked to the Netflix team. I talked to Sony. And so, when they were moving digital goods around the world. And the reason why this is so, important is the cloud is a real physical place that’s supported by real physical supply chains. And so, as we who are in software make decisions about product or as we as consumers make decisions about how many copies of our vacation photos we keep. That has a physical impact in the cloud. And if we make choices, that requires twice as much storage space. That’s twice as many servers, twice as many spare parts, twice as many supply chains, twice as many power requirements, twice as many mechanics engineers to repair. And they’re going to be driving there. so, you duplicate the whole thing. The other interesting factor is how much energy A.I. takes in chugging through their algorithms. It’s something like 30 percent of the world’s power right now is being taken just to help AI think. And these are elements that I don’t think are highlighted enough but relate very much to digital supply chain. Regardless of the way you define digital supply chain, whether they’re digital goods or the digital backbone that supports the physical supply chain.

Sheri Hinesh [00:08:36] You know what’s crazy, so, right now, a lot of people are talking about this pivot to virtual and how we connect digitally and how the CO2 impacts. And I know, Tom, this is right up your alley because you post a lot about climate change. And I saw a quick and dirty study from IBM, and I think it was Jeremy Waite that positioned that the pivot to Virtual actually has the same impact as people driving every day. so, when we start to think about digital supply chain in the world, we share digital waste. And are we really being as lean and effective in this new way of working? Where’s the opportunity? so, I would I would love to hear your point of view, Tom, around that. What are you hearing and seeing?

Tom Raftery [00:09:23] so, I missed that post and I would have assumed that working virtually working from home, for example, like all of us are now thanks to Covid-19, would have had a lower environmental impact. But you’re saying that Jeremy’s post said that, no, it’s similar because the technologies we’re using require large amounts of technology which are carbon intensive?

Sheri Hinesh [00:09:51] Yet our energy grids are still dirty and highly reliant on fossil fuels. so, depending on where you are in the country with your energy mix, you still have this very comparable impact. so, I thought it was a really, you know, in terms of education, I think this is really the pulse here. And the opportunity is we need to accelerate the transition to renewables. And if we can do that, if we can do that, you know. What might that look like?

Tom Raftery [00:10:23] The cool the cool thing is that I’ve done a lot of work on this. The cool thing is, speaking of renewables, that the transition to those is happening not fast enough, but it is happening. And it’s happening not because people are suddenly turning into tree huggers. It’s actually happening because the renewables are a) cheaper to roll over than any fossil fuel alternative and b) faster to roll out. There’s a new offshore wind park being built in the UK on the Dogger Bank. It’s 3.6 gigawatts. That’s three and a half nuclear power plants worth of wind, offshore wind, and it’s being built in two years from start to finish. There is an equivalent. There’s an equivalent called Hinkley C in the UK again, Hinkley C is a nuclear power plant. It’s 3.5 gigawatts. so, comparable power output. It’s going to take 10 to 15 years to build it out. Whereas the wind park the offshore wind 2 years. so, right there and you know, nuclear has a place. I know some people are against it. It’s a polarizing generation, but it is carbon free, essentially, once you’ve built the nuclear plant, it’s carbon free. But it doesn’t scale. It does not scale. Renewables scale massively. There’s. Because, again, down to economics. There is a solar farm being financed right now to be built in the north of Australia. It’s called Five B. I think if I remember correctly, it’s being it’s being financed by, amongst others, Mike Cannon-Brookes from Jive. And it’s going to be ten gigawatts, 10 gigawatts, 10 nuclear power plants worth of solar with 22 gigawatt hours of storage. so, 22 nuclear power plants worth of storage in the Northern Territory in Australia. They’re going to draw a big cable off to the right to power the city of Darwin. And they’re going to draw an even longer cable north three and a half thousand kilometers to power the city of Singapore. And again, it’s down to economics. It’s because it’s the cheapest way to do it. Australia has vast, vast, vast tracts of unused desert which can be used for these kinds of projects, which can be used for turning Australia into a hydrogen economy. You know, they can just put a massive mass of solar plants, generate as much hydrogen as possible and sell the hydrogen off into the global markets for electricity generation or for transportation.

Deborah Dull [00:13:07] It’s amazing. I’m so, glad you brought that example up, Tom. And just to reiterate the brilliance and excitement around circular models. One of the tenets is a shift to renewable sources of energy. And, you know, there’s two questions to ask yourself on. If a model is circular or if it just falls under CSR, and that’s is it making you more money? You can go faster, and you could be cheaper if you’re looking at something like a circular business model and in supply chain. I don’t know how many more levers we have left to pull to get faster, cheaper. We’re pretty fast and we’re pretty cheap, free in most cases or nobody’s paying for it at least. We have a cost. so, we have to start thinking of other levers to pull to add additional value back to organisations we support. And so, the examples you’re giving are brilliant because we’re going faster, it’s cheaper. And then if we think about, let’s say, a spare part to support one of these farms that’s going in, we could start from scratch, start from the metal, from the earth. But that takes more time and it’s going to cost you more if you can refurbish and use B channel parts or even your own parts refurbishing or shocking, I see a world where all similar parts will be refurbished and shared and within a single industry it’s going to be much, much faster and it can be much, much cheaper because you’re not starting from virgin raw materials anymore. so, I think it’s a fascinating model. And the biggest message to get through this is you can make more money as a company. And it just so, happens that it’s also great for the planet. so, it helps to span this gap of the sustainability drive that we all know needs to happen. And the sheer economics of running an economy that we’re all becoming very aware of these days and I think is just a lovely example. so, thanks for sharing.

Tom Raftery [00:15:03] Yeah. And you mentioned something earlier, Deborah. You were I mean, you used the expression that a lot of people use of “throwing things away”. And I remember, I can’t remember when it was or where it was, but I remember reading some point somebody saying that “There is no away”. Away is not a place. It doesn’t exist, you know? You know, so, throwing things away doesn’t make sense. It is not a thing.

Deborah Dull [00:15:30] You are just moving it to someplace else. Yeah, exactly. I actually think in the next… After we mine the ocean for plastic and let’s not be mistaken, that’s exactly what companies are doing now. We are we are now mining the ocean. We will move to landfills. I’m guessing in the next 10 years because we are running out. We’re running out of gold. We’re running up copper. It is still on the surface of the planet. To your point, unless cities are burning and a lot of people say, oh, cool, you’re burning garbage to create energy. But that’s actually not great because you’re losing all the value in the material. So, yes, you’re getting a short-term boost of energy. But actually, in reality, that’s the closest thing to “away” that we have is to burn something and you can no longer get it back again. so, much better is to find a way to retain the value of that item and reuse it as many times as you can.

Sheri Hinesh [00:16:21] Yeah. What we’re what we’re talking about here in describing is really this shift where supply chains who have traditionally been viewed as maybe transactional. And this cost improvement, you know, riddle it down to as efficient as possible. They’re really transitioning to an innovative catalyst that is a strategic partner at the table. And in the future of work. In the future of business. Competitiveness will be defined how your supply chain can execute and innovate. And that’s where we really believe that that’s where the future’s heading. All of the things that are described in in circular economy and sustainability. Yes, you can do well and do good, but there is a business case to be made for why. How you connect people is equally as important when you think about purpose, economy and experience economy. People want to show up at work and not leave their values at the door and be a part of something that’s truly transformation on EPIC. And this is the opportunity that supply chains have because we are so, in the end and we are a tapestry of different professionals. You know, when you when you say supply chain, what does that even mean anymore? It could mean data science. It could mean sourcing and procurement. It could mean your own distribution. Logistics. It could mean inventory. Deborah loves inventory. If you ever meet Deborah Tom face to face and bring up inventory, make sure you have a stiff pour of whisky because she will talk to you for hours.

Deborah Dull [00:18:03] Digital inventory is also super interesting. I had a whole section in my thesis on it. Punch line. It basically comes down to master data, which is also a very interesting topic. People roll their eyes, but it’s not, so. It’s often considered the inventory of a digital digital goods supply chain. If you’re moving around digital goods, it’s your master data and that the way you manage your master data is similar to managing inventory and you can use a lot of the same principles. Super fascinating. I love this stuff. That was not even a whole stiff pour Sherri. so, that was like half a finger.

Tom Raftery [00:18:42] I had no whisky ready. Jeez, Deborah, come on. You could’ve warned me.

Deborah Dull [00:18:46] I know next time that’ll be a different one. We do something called drink and learns on our podcast and we invite you to come to a drink and learn where we drink and learn. And it’s really super fun. And you’re you’re open. You’re openly invited Tom anytime.

Tom Raftery [00:19:00] I appreciate it. Thank you. I have listened to your podcast, so, I’m aware of some of these things. Thank you. But for people for people who haven’t listened. This is a good learning experience. And I’ll put a link to your podcast in the show notes as well. Just in case, you know, people are not aware of, but they can follow through and subscribe and do subscribe folks like and do subscribe to this one, too. Just just in case you’re not already subscribed. We’re coming towards the 20-minute mark. We’re at 18.50, right now. Is there any final thing you want to say to people who, you know, have been listening so, far who’ve made it this far into the podcast? Any last messages you want to leave with them?

Deborah Dull [00:19:36] Absolutely. Look. OK. You’re pointing at me, so, we’re all. And we’re all we can see each other right now. so, my final words are, look. There’s enough bad news happening in the world. We are all probably indoors for something going on two to four weeks depending on where you are in the world. And there is another way to connect with each other. One use of this digital technology that, yes, is using energy and a server somewhere in the world is that you can find a new community. We have something that we call the supply chain rebel who really describes if you feel different than those around you. If you feel like you’re pushing back, if you feel like perhaps you don’t have a community connect to. We are your community. And whether you are feeling too old, too young, not experienced enough, too edgy, too soft, whatever the too is that you’re feeling in your surroundings where your people. so, do come join together with us. We have a great time and we really look forward to connecting with you all.

Sheri Hinesh [00:20:42] Yes. Thank you, sir. Thank you so, much, Tom, for inviting us. The disruptors, the Rebels. And in final message, like Deborah said, find us supplychainrevolution.com. I have admired Tom’s work and his point of view for many years. And I salute you and your fabulous swagger. I love the hat. I love your brand. So, we’re we’re just really thrilled to find others. And I think right now the the opportunity is there are others out here like you and we can unite, especially across digital platforms, social platforms and really change the world. I think that sometimes people forget the impact that you can have in the world we share. And that’s really this message that we would hope you walk away from, that you can change the world.

Tom Raftery [00:21:36] Super, super, Sherri. Deborah, thanks a million for joining me on the show today.

Deborah Dull [00:21:43] Thanks, Tom.

Sheri Hinesh [00:21:43] Thank you.

Tom Raftery [00:21:46] OK, we’ve come to the end of the show. Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to SAP.com/digitalsupplychain or simply drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com. If you’d like to show, please don’t forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application to get new episodes right away as soon as they’re published. And also, please don’t forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

 

And if you want to know more about any of SAP’s Digital Supply Chain solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/digitalsupplychain and if you liked this show, please don’t forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover it. Thanks.

 

Technology is moving us to a world where energy is cheaper, smarter, and less carbon intensive

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.51.40

The graph above is a graph of electricity demand on the Spanish electricity grid taken from the demand page of the grid management company Red Electrica de España.

The data comes from April 26th this year through to Mar 3rd. The sever small graphs along the bottom are daily demand curves, going from Tuesday April 26th on the left, through to Monday May 3rd on the right. You can see that the demand curves for each day are virtually the same.

Saturday and Sunday are however, obvious due to the lower demand on those days, and if you are wondering why Monday the 3rd looks to be lower than the rest of the weekdays, it is because that Monday was a holiday in Spain.

The large graph on top is a zoomed-in look at the demand on one of those days – Friday April 29th. From that you can see that the demand starts to rise early in the morning with the peak occurring between 8-11am. Demand then falls off until late afternoon when people are cooking their evening meals, peaking around 9pm, and then falling until it starts again the following day.

The pattern varies slightly by day of the week, as well as by season, but overall while it is variable, it is also highly predictable.

Graph of predicted energy demand vs actual demand on Spanish grid on April 29th
Graph of predicted energy demand (Green) vs actual demand (yellow) on Spanish grid on April 29th this year – graph from REE

This can be problematic though when you have high penetrations of variable energy suppliers, such as wind and solar.

Here is the energy supplied to the system by wind, for example on April 29th

Energy supplied by wind on the Spanish grid on April 29th this year
Wind energy on the 29th of April on the Spanish grid

As you can see, it doesn’t map well with the demand, and this is challenging for grid management companies, especially with increasing pressure on them to decarbonise.

That can lead to circumstances where wind power ends up supplying 140% of your demand, as happened in the Netherlands last summer. Fortunately, the Netherlands has good interconnects, and so was able to sell this excess energy to its neighbouring countries. This won’t always be the case though, and will become a more common issue as the penetration of wind and solar increases globally.

 

Obviously, if you can’t manage the supply side of the grid, what about managing the demand – how achievable is that?

Interestingly, this is now becoming a real possibility. Already there are companies who aggregate the demand of large organisations with facilities for reducing demand, if required, and sell that reduced demand to utility companies. This can save the utility from having to build new generation sources to meet the increased demand at times of peak load.

Demand flexibility graph
Demand flexibility

What if this were more widespread?

Looking at the chart above, if we could shift the yellow demand line up during its overnight dip, and then reduce the yellow demand line during the morning and evening, this would make the grid more stable, and allow for the introduction of more variable generators (solar and wind) onto the system, as well as reducing the requirement for expensive ‘peaker plants’.

Sounds great Tom, how to do that?

Well price is always a great motivator. In Germany last week where there was an excess of energy on the system, so pricing went negative, meaning large customers were being paid to use it.

Negative pricing on the German energy market
Graph of negative pricing on the German electricity market

Reduced, or negative pricing is a better option than wind farm curtailment because curtailment lowers the income for the wind farms, making them a less attractive investment for renewables developers, while reduced pricing moves the demand to a more suitable time.

Now, with the advent of the Internet of Things, everything starts to be smart and connected. If our electricity devices can listen for realtime electricity signals from the grid, they can adjust their consumption accordingly.

Of course, not all loads in the home are movable  – not many people will decide to cook their evening meal at 3am just because the wind is blowing and energy is cheap.

However, many loads are eminently movable. Pool pumps, are a good example. And also many loads that have a heating or cooling component associated with them, such as an electric hot water heater. When it is well insulated it doesn’t matter when it heats the water. Similarly for fridges, freezers, ice bank air conditioning, and so on. These are straightforward and affordable forms of energy storage.

Dish washers, washing machines, clothes dryers can also be made to listen to electricity pricing, and adjust their behaviour accordingly. Often, when you put the dish washer on in the evening, you don’t care when it comes on, as long as the dishes are clean and dry when you get up the following morning.

As more of our appliances become connected and smart, this will become the norm. Obviously, for widespread adoption, this kind of behaviour has to be totally automated. If the device owner has to think about it, it won’t happen.

Smart grid appliance

And then there are the real storage options, using batteries. This can be in the form of batteries in electric vehicles using vehicle-to-grid technologies, in-home batteries such as the ones Tesla, and others sell, or reconditioned electric vehicle batteries – a market that is just starting to get going.

So, good news, technology is moving us inexorably to a world where energy is getting cheaper, smarter, and less carbon intensive.

Apple puts its environmental initiatives front and centre at its spring event

 

LisaJacksonAppleRenewableEnergyApple held it’s annual spring event yesterday in Palo Alto to make iPhone, iPad, and iOS related announcements (amongst others).

However, this year for a change the first executive invited to address the audience was Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, former EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson.

Lisa was greeted by warm applause which became more enthusiastic when she announced that 93% of Apple’s facilities worldwide are now powered by renewable energy. This means Apple is now well on its way to achieving its stated aim of being fully renewably powered globally. And in 23 countries, including the United States and China, Apple is already 100% renewably powered.

In China Jackson explained, Apple has a 40MW solar farm which has a minimal impact on the local environment, and allows for the local Yak farmers to graze their animals and grow hay under the panels (seen above). This solar farm produces more electricity than Apple uses currently in all of China.

Apple’s data centres are also fully renewably powered, and it has a policy of siting new data centres only if the site has access to renewable power. This was one of the reasons behind Apple’s choosing Ireland and Denmark for its two newest data centres last year.

In fact, since hiring Jackson away from the EPA, Apple has made some extremely positive moves in reducing its footprint, and greatly increasing its transparency. This focus on transparency may go some of the way to explaining Apple’s decision last week to move a significant portion of its iCloud storage business away from notoriously opaque Amazon to Google (although, it is as likely to do with diversifying suppliers, moving to a supplier more in line with Apple’s views on data privacy, and possibly easing the transition to eventually self-hosting the data).

Jackson also talked about Apple’s investments in forestry, and how Apple are using paper sourced from sustainably farmed forests for 99% of its packaging now.

Apple is demonstrating tremendous leadership in the energy and sustainability space (as well as the privacy space, but that another story!). Kudos to them, and interestingly Amazon appears to be finally getting around to supplying some of its operations with renewable energy too – though, it still shuns any kind of auditing or reporting on its energy and emissions. Sigh, maybe someday after seeing Apple put their environmental initiatives front and centre, Amazon will also see the value of doing this.

Salesforce on track to being the cloud crm provider with the lowest carbon emissions

Building a wind turbine
We have highlighted often enough what a poor job some cloud companies are doing of making their cloud infrastructure cleaner, and being transparent about their emissions.

Against that backdrop, it is heartening to see some more enlightened cloud companies doing the right thing. Salesforce announced today its second renewable energy purchase agreement. The first announcement, made just last month was of the signing of a 12-year wind energy purchase agreement, for 40MW of a new West Virginia wind farm through a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA). This wind farm is expected to generate 125,000MWh of wind energy annually.

Today’s news doubles down on that with the disclosure that Salesforce has signed a second energy agreement, this time with a 24MW new wind farm in Texas which is expected to generate 102,000MWh of electricity annually. When the two wind farms are fully up and running then, Salesforce will be buying 227,000MWh of electricity per annum.

To put this in context, according to its filings with the CDP Salesforce’s total purchase of energy (electricity, fuel, heat, steam, and cooling) in 2015, was just under 152,000MWh. So Salesforce’s energy consumption can grow quite a bit by the time these two wind farms come fully on line in December 2016, and still be well covered by the output of these two wind farms.

If we compare this to a couple of Salesforce’s competitors* –

  • Microsoft purchases 3,570,438MWh of energy, of which 3,240,620MWh comes from clean energy sources (90.8% clean), and
  • SAP purchases 918,320MWh of energy , of which 346,885MWh comes from clean energy sources (37.8% clean)

So barring any huge spikes in Salesforce’s energy requirements this year, it looks like they are on track to being the cleanest of the large cloud CRM providers.

In case you are interested in other cloud computing companies purchases of renewable energy, I charted a few of them based on their submissions to the CDP for 2015 – see below

Cloud Computing Clean Energy 2015

*I tried to find energy and emissions data for Salesforce competitor Workday, but as yet they have not reported their data to the CDP. When they do, I will update this post.

Equinix rolls out 1MW fuel cell for Silicon Valley data center

Equinix Silicon Valley Data Center

Equinix is powering one of its Silicon Valley data centers with a 1MW Bloom Energy fuel cell

As we have pointed out here many times, the main cloud providers (particularly Amazon and IBM) are doing a very poor job either powering their data centers with renewable energy, or reporting on the emissions associated with their cloud computing infrastructure.

Given the significantly increasing use of cloud computing by larger organisations, and the growing economic costs of climate change, the sources of the electricity used by these power-hungry data centers is now more relevant than ever.

Against this background, it is impressive to see to see Equinix, a global provider of carrier-neutral data centers (with a fleet of over 100 data centers) and internet exchanges, announce a 1MW Bloom Energy biogas fuel cell project at its SV5 data center, in Silicon Valley. Biogas is methane gas captured from decomposing organic matter such as that from landfills or animal waste.

Why would Equinix do this?

Well, the first phase of California’s cap and trade program for CO2 emissions commenced in January 2013, and this could, in time lead to increased costs for electricity. Indeed in their 2014 SEC filing [PDF], Equinix note that:

The effect on the price we pay for electricity cannot yet be determined, but the increase could exceed 5% of our costs of electricity at our California locations. In 2015, a second phase of the program will begin, imposing allowance obligations upon suppliers of most forms of fossil fuels, which will increase the costs of our petroleum fuels used for transportation and emergency generators.

We do not anticipate that the climate change-related laws and regulations will force us to modify our operations to limit the emissions of GHG. We could, however, be directly subject to taxes, fees or costs, or could indirectly be required to reimburse electricity providers for such costs representing the GHG attributable to our electricity or fossil fuel consumption. These cost increases could materially increase our costs of operation or limit the availability of electricity or emergency generator fuels.

In light of this, self-generation using fuel cells looks very attractive, both from the point of view of energy cost stability, and reduced exposure to increasing carbon related costs.

On the other hand, according to today’s announcement, Equinix already gets approximately 30% of its electricity from renewable sources, and it plans to increase this to 100% “over time”.

Even better than that, Equinix is 100% renewably powered in Europe despite its growth. So Equinix is walking the walk in Europe, at least, and has a stated aim to go all the way to 100% renewable power.

What more could Equinix do?

Well, two things come to mind immediately:

  1. Set an actual hard target date for the 100% from renewables and
  2. Start reporting all emissions to the CDP (and the SEC)

Given how important a player Equinix in the global internet infrastructure, the sooner we see them hit their 100% target, the better for all.

IBM to increase the amount of renewable electricity it procures

IBM branded battery

After returning from IBM’s InterConnect conference recently we chided IBM for their aping of Amazon’s radical opaqueness concerning their cloud emissions, and their lack of innovation concerning renewables.

However, some better news emerged in the last few days.

The Whitehouse last week hosted a roundtable of some of the largest Federal suppliers to discuss their GHG reduction targets, or if they didn’t have any, to create and disclose them.

Coming out of that roundtable, IBM announced its committment to procure electricity from renewable sources for 20% of its annual electricity consumption by 2020. To do this, IBM will contract over 800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of renewable electricity.

And IBM further committed to:

Reduce CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy consumption 35% by year-end 2020 against base year 2005 adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures.

To put this in context, in the energy conservation section of IBM’s 2013 corporate report, IBM reports that it sourced 17% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2013.

It is now committing to increase that from the 2013 figure of 17% to 20% by 2020. Hmmm.

IBM committed to purchasing 800 GWh’s of renewable electricity per year by 2020. How does that compare to some of its peers?

In 2014, the EPA reported that Intel purchased 3,102 GWh’s, of renewable electricity, and Microsoft purchased 2,488 GWh’s which, in both cases amounted to 100% of their total US electricity use.

In light of this, 800 GWh’s amounting to 20% of total electricity use looks a little under-ambitious.

On the other hand, at least IBM are doing something.

Amazon, as noted earlier, have steadfastly refused to do any reporting of their energy consumption, and their emissions. This may well be, at least in part, because Amazon doesn’t sell enough to the government to appear on the US Federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Management Scorecard for significant suppliers.

With the news this week that 2015 will likely be the hottest year on record, and that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting at unprecedented rates, it is time for organisations that can make a significant difference, to do so.

Google, purchased 32% of their total US energy from renewables in 2014. But more than that, this week it emerged that Google are considering moving climate denying sites down the list of Google search results.

And just yesterday, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff cancelled all his company’s events in the state of Indiana, after its governor signed a law making discrimination on the grounds of sexuality legal.

These are the kinds of measures that can make a difference.

Come on IBM. If this were your Spring Break report card, it’d read “IBM – could work harder”.

Cloud computing companies ranked by their use of renewable energy


Cloud provider Renewables percentage

Cloud computing is booming. Cloud providers are investing billions in infrastructure to build out their data centers, but just how clean is cloud?

Given that this is the week that the IPCC’s 5th assessment report was released, I decided to do some research of my own into cloud providers. The table above is a list of the cloud computing providers I looked into, and what I found.

It is a real mixed bag but from the table you can see that Icelandic cloud provider Greenqloud comes out on top because they are using the electricity from the 100% renewable Icelandic electricity grid to power their infrastructure.

On the Windows Azure front, Microsoft announced in May of 2012 that it was going to go carbon neutral for its facilities and travel. Microsoft are now, according to the EPA, the second largest purchaser of renewable energy in the US. In 2013 they purchased 2,300m kWh which accounted for 80% of their electricity consumption. They made up the other 20% with Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). And according to Microsoft’s TJ DiCaprio, they plan to increase their renewable energy purchases from 80% to 100% in the financial year 2014.

Google claim to have been carbon neutral since 2007. Of Google’s electricity, 32% came from renewables, while the other 68% came from the purchase of RECs.

SAP purchased 391m kWh of renewable energy in 2013. This made up 43% of its total electricity consumption. SAP have since announced that they will go to powering 100% of its facilities from renewable energy in 2014.

The most recent data from IBM dates from 2012 when they purchased 764m kWh of renewable energy. This accounted for just 15% of their total consumption. In the meantime IBM have purchased cloud company Softlayer for whom no data is available, so it is unclear in what way this will have affected IBM’s position in these rankings.

The most up-to-date data on Oracle’s website is from 2011, but more recent data about their renewable energy is to be found in their 2012 disclosure to the Carbon Disclosure Project (registration required). This shows that Oracle purchased 5.4m kWh of renewable energy making up a mere 0.7% of their total consumption of 746.9m kWh in 2012.

Rackspace have no data available on their site, but in email communications with me yesterday they claim that 35% of their electricity globally is from renewable sources. They declined to say exactly how much that was (in kWh).

Amazon discloses no information whatsoever about its infrastructure apart from a claim that its Oregon and GovCloud regions are using 100% carbon free power. However, they don’t back up this claim with any evidence, they don’t disclose to the Carbon Disclosure Project, nor do they produce an annual Corporate Responsibility report.

The other three cloud providers in the list, Softlayer, GoGrid, and Bluelock have no information on their websites (that I could find), and they didn’t respond to written inquiries.

I’ll be writing a follow-up post to this in the next few days where I look into the supply chain risks of utilising cloud platforms where there is no transparency around power sourcing.

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Friday Green Numbers round-up 06/25/2010

Green numbers
Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

  • Australia is no stranger to tight water supplies, and fortunately that means smart water conservation strategies are being devised all the time. Australia is leading the way in everything from strategies to combat desertification to using renewable energy for desalination plants, and now it is putting that knowledge to work on six new infrastructure projects that can save 1.3 billion gallons of water.

    tags: greennumbers, australia, smart water, water conservation, desalination, renewable energy, desertification

  • GROWING numbers of girls are reaching puberty before the age of 10, raising fears of increased sexual activity among a new generation of children.

    Scientists believe the phenomenon could be linked to obesity or exposure to chemicals in the food chain, and is putting girls at greater long-term risk of breast cancer.

    A study has revealed that breast development in a sample of 1,000 girls started at an average age of 9 years and 10 months — an entire year earlier than when a similar cohort was examined in 1991.

    tags: greennumbers, girls, puberty, obesity, chemicals, food chain, breast cancer

  • There’s some interesting new data out on recent shifts in electricity demand and consumption, courtesy of the DOE/EIA.

    In 2008, total U.S. power generation was 4.1 million GWh. In 2009, that fell by 4 percent, to 3.9 million. That’s a 4 percent reduction — clearly the result of the economic slowdown. Nothing surprising there.

    What’s interesting, though, is how generation shifted by fuel type. Over the same year, coal-fired power generation fell by 11 percent, from almost 2 million GWh to just under 1.8 million.

    tags: greennumbers, fuel, type, coal-fired power generation, coal, DOE, EIA, U.S. power generation, electricity demand, electricity consumption

  • Just how important is turning off computers at the end of the day in an office building? Very, if a company wants to save big bucks on electricity bills. According to UC San Diego researchers, 50-80% of a modern building’s electricity use goes to IT equipment, particularly desktop computers. A report last year showed that not shutting down PCs equated to $2.8 billion in wasted electricity. Still, many offices don’t encourage their employees to hit shut-down on their PCs for a variety of reasons, including updating software while everyone is out or being able to keep the computer attached to the network so information on the machine can be accessed at any time. However, Microsoft’s new Sleep Proxy system claims it can help cut energy consumption by 60-80%, without getting in the way of office systems.

    tags: greennumbers, IT equipment, electricity use, Sleep Proxy

  • At a presentation at the Oxford Energy Futures conference on June 11th, Andy Duff, non-executive chair of RWE npower, made some controversial assertions about the future of electricity in the UK. He focused on three propositions.

    a)      The UK cannot meet its carbon targets without new nuclear

    b)      Electricity demand will grow at 1% less than GDP growth

Friday Green Numbers round-up 06/18/2010

Green numbers
Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

SunSpec Alliance setting standards for the solar industry

BP Oil Spill
Photo credit Tom Raftery (Me!)

Sunspec.org is an alliance of renewable industry companies whose aim is to define communication standards data monitoring for the solar power industry.

Up until now there haven’t been any standards agreed around data communication in the solar power industry which added huge cost and complexity to the monitoring and management of solar farms – especially when there were multiple vendors involved. These lack of interoperability and increased cost issues have greatly hobbled solar power’s growth.

To address this the SunSpec Alliance was formed last year with the express purpose of defining standards which, if widely adopted, should significantly speed up the deployment of solar energy systems and be a big help in their management, reporting and maintenance.

On this coming May 11th, the Alliance will publish their initial set of proposed communication standards for the industry and open them up for public review and comment. The first specifications cover the inverter, the meter and the environmental sensors.

The release of these documents will be followed up by implementations of the specifications by Alliance member companies, testing, certification and a branding project to bring those products to market. Once these standards start to become widely adopted, they can be proposed to the IEC or the IEEE to become official international standards.

Standards are hugely important for the growth of any emerging industry. In the case of solar power, the standards will be all the more important, coinciding as they are with the with the arrival of smart grids and the development of smart grid interoperability standards.

by-sa