The mining sector is one of the world’s largest energy consumers. As renewable energies become more accessible, it’s time to take stock of what mining companies have to gain by making the switch.

This topic was precisely the focus of Atlas’s most recent participation at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention, a leading event for the world’s mineral industry. Representing over 6,000 members across the globe, the PDAC works towards supporting a competitive, responsible, and sustainable mineral sector. With these keywords in mind, Atlas’s Head of Commercial, Renato Valdivia, argues that “both the renewable energy and mining industries share certain key goals and incentives.” Below, we look at how both industries can help each other meet these goals.

Renewables make commercial sense

From a business point of view, the pros of renewable energy primarily point to reduced operating costs. According to a study conducted by Deloitte, incorporating renewables can reduce operating costs by 25% in existing mining operations and up to 50% for new mines. Given that energy usage constitutes roughly 30% of total operating costs for most mines, it’s worthwhile to consider long-term strategies that can accommodate growing energy needs in the most sustainable and cost-effective way.

Renewables allow for tailor-made solutions

Perhaps the most significant obstacle when it comes to integrating renewable energies has to do with lagging perceptions about the reliability of green energy sources and the complexity of navigating power purchase agreements (PPAs). The benefit of securing an independent renewable energy contract, however, lies precisely in the ability to adjust PPAs to specific energy needs, rather than relying solely on energy sources that create their own problems in terms of waste and risk management.

It’s vital to understand how personalized PPAs can provide higher value solutions by taking into account the unique characteristics of a particular location, in combination with the demand profile of each mine. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality will never be able to optimize energy expenditure, cost, risk, and sustainability goals.

Carbon emissions come with a toll

The mining sector accounts for 4-7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Arguably more than any other industry, miners face incredible pressure by part of governments, investors, and society to reduce emissions. This pressure takes the form of regulatory frameworks to tax carbon emissions, which will continue to impact large energy consumers unless they take steps toward cleaner energy sources.

According to the World Bank, carbon pricing instruments have already been adopted in 40 countries, while others have been implemented at regional and local levels.

Valdivia’s suggestion would be to start with electrification as the first strategy to reduce the carbon footprint. “Green hydrogen can replace fossil fuels, should electrification not be an option,” he says. “Ultimately, we need to completely replace the use of fossil fuels if we want to reach net zero. This calls for the renewables sector and the mining sector to work closely together to find systemic solutions that can yield long-term synergies.”

Investors favor renewables (consumers do, too)

The need for long-term, systemic change is evident when we consider that more and more institutional investors are pledging to support fossil-fuel-free strategies. As such, the ability of miners to reduce their carbon footprint goes hand in hand with potential business partnerships. Mining organizations are therefore uniquely positioned to play an essential role in accelerating innovative transitions in energy production, management, and distribution.

An observation from PDAC’s annual conference is the growing awareness of the central role minerals play in the modern economy and how the green transition will drive steeper demand growth for certain elements, such as copper and lithium. This points towards a nascent business model for the mining sector, one that works for and with the development of new renewable energy technologies. The challenge is finding ways to balance expansion with efficient capital allocation and cost containment – however, a comprehensive sustainability strategy, where a renewable component (and design optimization of the operations around maximizing its use) when planning for a new mine or expanding an existing operation would serve to unlock access to preferential green financing schemes and reduce the perceived investor risk.

Along similar lines, mining companies need to consider the growing consumer demand for supply chains to provide green commodities. Larger clients such as Volvo and Mercedes are cementing these demands by making green steel commitments, which are due to come into place over the next five years.

It’s business-critical

The shift toward renewable energy invariably falls under the umbrella of more significant environmental, social, and governance concerns.  Due to their scale and intervention, mining projects tend to generate a lot of attention regarding ESG.

Mines require licenses to operate, which in turn are conditioned to ESG strategies. In this light, renewable energies offer more than simple cost savings. They also form a part of strategies that preserve a mine’s social license.

Atlas’ business model has always been about finding ways to provide innovative and tailor-made clean energy solutions for large energy consumers while acting as agents of change and stewards of social justice in the communities we touch. From our perspective, it’s all about pushing the concept of sustainability beyond clean energy toward an all-encompassing model for economic growth that strives for regeneration over depletion.  Ensuring the triple bottom line is ultimately the most significant return on investment.

Although social and environmental benefits may be harder to quantify, they do create shareholder value.

A new mining model

The challenge for the mining industry is to determine how to provide the minerals the world needs to prosper, all the while making their operations part of the solution to address climate change.

Answering this question requires a willingness to rethink operational processes and enough leadership to transform an entire industry.

Current trends indicate that the move towards renewables is on the rise. Mining industry leaders should not delay in pursuing this course, or they may find themselves on a higher cost curve, playing catch-up with competitors.

It’s through the lens of renewable energy strategies miners can position themselves as key players in the technology and innovation space, attracting the interest of a specialized workforce and forward-thinking investors – all the while serving the communities where they operate.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

On August 16, the United State’s President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 into law, marking the country’s first-ever piece of climate legislation.

At the heart of the IRA, which the president called “the biggest step forward on climate ever”, are billions of dollars in climate and energy spending that, if implemented, will reduce the US’ greenhouse-gas emissions by about 40% below their all-time high and take it two-thirds of the way to meeting its 2030 goal under the Paris Agreement.

With provisions to expand wind and solar production and bring climate-friendly technology such as electric vehicles closer to the financial reach of more Americans, the IRA has the opportunity to accelerate the US’ energy transition – but there are a few caveats.

What’s in the IRA?

The Inflation Reduction Act is a major legislative package that covers a wide range of areas, from drug prices to taxes. The bulk of the act, however, addresses climate protection, with a proposed investment of US$369bn in energy security and climate change programs over the course of the next 10 years. The key components of the energy provisions aim to lower energy costs in the US, increase American energy security and invest in decarbonizing all sectors of the economy via innovative solutions.

For consumers, the IRA proposes direct incentives to buy electric vehicles, energy-efficient appliances, and rooftop solar, including a US$4,000 consumer tax credit for lower/middle income to purchase used electric vehicles, and up to US$7,500 tax credits for new clean energy vehicles.

For manufacturers, the act includes over US$60bn to bring clean energy manufacturing onshore, as well as incentives to reduce inflation and the risk of future price shocks by bringing down the cost of clean energy and clean vehicles and relieving supply chain bottlenecks. This includes a US$10bn billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities and US$20bn in loans for new clean vehicle manufacturing.

For the wider economy, the IRA replaces sticks with carrots by using subsidies, rather than carbon taxes, to address climate change. It will invest in carbon emissions reduction via tax credits for clean energy sources, with US$30bn in targeted grant and loan programs, and tax credits for clean fuels and commercial vehicles.

A further US$27bn has been earmarked towards a green bank to provide incentives for clean energy technology, while the IRA’s provisions include investments in the technologies needed for all fuel types, including hydrogen, nuclear, renewables, fossil fuels, and energy storage, to be produced and used in the cleanest way possible. This will mean grants and loans for companies reining in their emissions, and fees on producers with excess methane emissions.

What will be the impact on renewable energy?

The cost of both solar power – which the International Energy Agency calls the “cheapest source of electricity in history” – and wind power has dropped in recent years, and the new legislation is expected to push down costs even further.

Currently, very few solar panels are made in the US, but the IRA proposes to change that by providing incentives for new factories to make every subcomponent of the solar supply chain as well as paying those factories for every item that they produce. The IRA will restore the current renewable energy Section 451, which is a production tax credit (PTC), as well as Section 48, which is the investment tax credit (ITC), to their full pre- “phaseout” rates, just as these tax incentives were set to expire or wind down. This means greater incentives for generators. Another type of tax credit would be aimed at clean energy companies to deploy more solar, wind, and batteries on the grid, extending existing credits another 10 years.

What’s more, it will add an advanced manufacturing tax credit for manufacturers of solar and wind components in the United States. Meanwhile, clean-electricity tax credits will cause demand for renewable projects, as well as new solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and other components, to boom. And because of the interconnected global nature of the economy, this could help those technologies become more easily available to other countries, too.

What will be the IRA’s impact on climate change?

Various estimates from the scientific community put the reduction in US greenhouse-gas emissions at about 30-40% below 2005 levels by 2030 as a result of the IRA, bringing the US closer to delivering President Biden’s pledge of a 50% reduction which he made last year.

However, for some environmental advocacy groups, the IRA doesn’t go far enough – especially because it includes multiple provisions that increase fossil fuel production. One group, the Climate Justice Alliance, has gone so far as to oppose it, arguing that its harms currently outweigh its benefits.

And while the IRA is a historic piece of legislation that signals to other nations that the US is now on board to address climate change, the country still has some way to go when it comes to catching up with climate action elsewhere.

Even with the Inflation Reduction Act, green investments by the United States since 2020 lag behind those of France, Italy, and South Korea when historical emissions are factored in, according to data from the University of Oxford’s Global Recovery Observatory.

Meanwhile, compared to its neighbors in the south, the US is only getting started when it comes to climate change legislation. In recent years, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay have all enacted climate laws that establish measures to promote more sustainable economies and reduce emissions.

What’s more, much of the region is already playing a world-leading role in renewable energy generation. At a recent event hosted by Duke’s Energy Initiative and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and funded by the US Department of State, Christine Folch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University, said: “In the United States we get about 20% of the electricity we consume through renewable energy resources. We get almost two-thirds of the electricity consumed by burning fossil fuels. There is only one region in the world where this is not the case, and that is Latin America.”

She added: “What that means is that as we’re thinking about a post-fossil fuel world, as we think about the politics and economics that come from a transition from relying mainly on fossil fuels to moving to renewable energy resources, the area of the world that can show us about what that might look like is Latin America.”

What is the Atlas viewpoint?

As a company truly committed to building a cleaner, more sustainable future, Atlas supports the US government’s action to advance renewable energy investment and take crucial steps to tackle the urgent crisis of climate change.

Whether the law can live up to its historic promise will now depend on whether these subsidies and massive investments can be deployed quickly and at scale. Private sector companies such as Atlas, with experience in rolling out renewable energy infrastructure across the Americas, will play an important role in implementing the IRA’s vision.

Although the world still has some way to go in achieving the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, the bold action in the IRA is a major inflection point, and we look forward to seeing more governments around the world take positive action that is good for the climate, and good for the future.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

The nature of renewable energies calls for a diversified approach toward energy production, storage, and consumption. However, there is still the desire for most large energy users to seek a one-stop-shop solution. 

Atlas’s focus on tailor-made power purchase agreements (PPAs) is guided by the understanding that renewable energy efforts are more successful when they incorporate a variety of resources and methods of storage and distribution.  

In a system that’s no ‘one size fits all,’ making the step towards an electricity supply that is renewable, clean, and green can present a challenge for corporations who are increasingly looking at going beyond 100% renewables to 24/7 green power.  

In this ever-evolving field, it’s important for large energy buyers to work with providers who take on the necessary risk assessments and analyses and who seek to position themselves at the forefront of technological developments. Ultimately, the goal is to build a long-term collaborative relationship that will keep clients at the vanguard of renewable energy options. 

Atlas’s Head of Commercial, Renato Valdivia, walks us through these points and more in our interview below: 

Q: How does the intermittency issue present itself in your discussions with potential clients? 

A: We’ve noticed that the main concern of potential clients with large 24/7 renewable electricity requirements, who are looking to absorb solar and wind power within their overall PPA, is being able to find a single solution that solves all their electricity needs. 

By the very nature of how renewable energy works – after all, there are days when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing – there is an inherent need for risk management. However, it’s important to remember that energy markets have two layers to them: there’s the physical level of energy production, which is where we experience the intermittency issue, and then there’s the financial layer. When we speak of the financial layer, we’re referring to the financial instruments that overlay PPAs. 

Financial instruments go a long way to mediate intermittency risks – and a PPA will always define how risks are assigned in accordance to delivery obligations – but renewable energy providers like Atlas are themselves evolving to tackle the issue of intermittency by transitioning towards a portfolio approach that allows them to offer clients a combination of energy assets that are tailored to meet specific energy needs. 

One example is the recent PPA that Atlas established with Enel, which harnesses wind energy from three different locations in Chile in order to ensure constant energy production. Portfolio-styled PPAs can also include a combination of different energy sources as well as battery storage. This is becoming more and more the paradigm by which Atlas operates. 

Q: How exactly do you structure that kind of portfolio? 

A: To be able to do this, you need very strong analytical capabilities and risk management tools. While everything can look good on an as-expected basis, you need to move toward risk analysis in order to take into account the natural variability of our business. This variability can be in the form of wind patterns or changes in power grid prices. The client’s demand or grid conditions can also change. These are all things that need to be modeled to gain a good assessment of how well your assets are able to deliver and how, as an energy provider, you’re going to manage the outstanding exposure so that you can provide clients with what they are looking for at a reasonable risk level for you, as a generator, and at a reasonable price for them. 

Essentially, it becomes critical to evolve your commercial and risk sophistication as a company. In this sense, Atlas is operating from a more complex order of magnitude, where we want to integrate the concept of risk management and intermittency within a more flexible and diversified understanding of how to truly achieve clean energy targets. 

Q: Speaking of energy targets, many corporations rely on energy attribute certificates such as I-RECs as a way to make renewable electricity claims. Is this still a valid option? 

A: It is still a valid option, but over the last decade, we have seen that corporations – especially in the tech space – are going one step further. For example, Google, Microsoft, and most recently, the U.S. Department of Defense have all joined an initiative that pledges not only 100% renewables but also 24/7 clean energy. 

It’s important to note the difference because a 100% renewable energy target might lead you to procure a PPA that only includes solar energy, for example, because that may be the cheapest option – but if your target is to meet 100% clean energy, then that gives you the incentive to procure a PPA that includes wind power, or PPAs that are backed by battery storage and other technologies that would allow you to receive clean energy even in the hours or days in which renewable resources are most scarce. 

Q: Battery storage is often seen as an obvious way to tackle intermittency issues. Is current technology at the level that allows for batteries to function as a viable storage option yet? 

A: Batteries have experienced an incredible run of technological improvement and cost decrease over the last five years. Is the technology there? It’s still improving, but it’s there, and as more investment flows into the space, we’ll start to see even greater innovation and cost reductions. 

An added benefit of batteries is that they serve to stabilize the grid. Sometimes you have a large influx of solar and wind energies in power markets, given that these are variable technologies, and having a certain amount of battery or storage capacity in the grid helps to reduce volatility, which ultimately adds value. 

However, it’s important to stress that batteries are not an all-encompassing solution. If the aim is to reach 100% renewables or 100% clean electricity, we need to see the role that batteries play as a complementary, albeit very important, one. 

Seasonal patterns require innovative solutions and the road to 100% renewable and clean energy is fundamentally about finding ways to harness and distribute energy through the most ecologically and economically sound methods. This inherently rules out a one-focus solution. 

Ultimately, It’s never going to be about only solar or only wind. Of course, the exciting part is that we are in the process of discovery. New chemistries and technologies are constantly springing up, but the bottom line is that it’s not enough with only solar, wind, and batteries: there’s got to be something else. So, while we keep deploying and making efforts to invest more in solar, wind, and batteries, we also need to keep funding the startups that can deliver the solutions that will get us all the way and not just 80% or 90% of the way. 

Q: It’s precisely the quest for new solutions that leads Atlas towards new partnerships and collaborations, such as your most recent partnership with Hitachi ABB Power Grids. Could you share some insights on what you’ve learned by working alongside ABB? 

A: ABB has been a great partner by helping Atlas jump-start our know-how about battery solutions that complement our PPAs. We’ve learned so much about the range of technologies that are available. 

From the outside, it’s easy to bundle the idea of battery storage as a single concept. But there is a range of technologies, and it’s important to distinguish which are best suited for different applications. To do so, clients must have a detailed understanding of their business case. 

For instance, you may want your PPA to shift power from solar hours to peak hours – and there are certain batteries that are designed to do that. There’s also the option to choose between Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) solar batteries, both of which have a range of implications in terms of cost but also in the flexibility you have to operate on the grid. 

With so many options available and more on the way, it’s definitely a complex but highly interesting and dynamic field. I think the most important thing to take away from all this is the need to work with savvy companies that are prepared to take advantage of all these technologies and provide clients with a range of tools to play in the power market. 

Q: With your current strategy, is Atlas guaranteed to meet any and all requirements from big energy clients? 

A: I’d love to be able to say yes, but the reality is more complex. There’s not always going to be a single generator that can solve all of a client’s needs if those needs are very complicated. I’m thinking of energy users with unusual load profiles, for example – although these are very rare. But, I would say that in most cases, we can design solutions that solve a good part of any client’s electricity needs and sustainability targets.

If you’re a client with a big load profile, my advice would be to shop around. You need to see what the range of potential providers can offer to you. I would always encourage you to talk to Atlas – I think we’ve proven by our track record in innovative solutions in different markets and the awards that we’ve received that we are not afraid to think outside the box. Our clients come from a whole range of industries, with hugely different electricity needs, from large utility companies to the chemicals sector, mining companies, and IT service providers. Above all, we’re ready to go the extra mile to try to deliver our clients the solutions that they’re looking for. 

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Whenever money is involved—especially with contracts—things can get complex. Then add volatile conditions, such as the recent pandemic, war, the climate crisis, and inflation, and things get even more complicated. These conditions have serious side effects, one of them being currency volatility. According to a 2021 article by DailyFX, currency volatility is “characterized by frequent and rapid changes to exchange rates in the forex market.” Basically, it means that currency value is unpredictable and virtually impossible to control. 

Electricity prices can fluctuate as well. This compounded unpredictability is often the motivator for companies and owners of renewable energy projects to secure a power purchase agreement or PPA. Yet, there are signs that the current market volatility may impact these agreements over the long term. For example, a recent Pexapark report highlighted in Reuters states that the recent energy price volatility will have a lasting impact on the clean energy PPA market, which includes fewer long-term contracts. 

But despite the recent volatility, PPAs can still provide a source of stability. According to an article by Martijn Duvoort of DNV, “PPAs have been a valuable tool in financing the energy transition to date, particularly in the USA, Latin America, and recently, the Nordic countries. With governments in many regions looking to phase out subsidies and feed-in tariffs, new renewable energy projects will be far more exposed to the fluctuations of the open markets. PPAs help to mitigate against the risks associated with such fluctuations, and will become an even more important tool for encouraging investment in new projects.”

So, where do we go from here? Let’s start at the beginning.

Power Purchase Agreements: The Basics

A PPA is a contract between a consumer and an energy-generating unit or portfolio thereof. There are two major categories of PPAs: physical delivery PPAs and virtual PPAs (sometimes called financial PPAs). The usual contract duration is between 10 and 20 years. The PPA negotiation is complex; it requires legal and occasionally technical advisors, and the typical time it takes to negotiate is 3‒9 months.

Given that power networks link generation units with demand, a PPA is not limited to on-site generation assets; most of the time, power generation is located offsite, sometimes not even within the same region. The PPA process can begin with a brand-new energy project that is ready to be built (including the location, size, and connection to the grid that is already agreed upon) or an existing project that has available generation capacity not committed in prior PPAs. For corporate PPAs, companies like Atlas Renewable Energy can help, especially as the need for international expertise grows.

Key PPA Benefits

As a mechanism enabling positive change, the PPA, at its core, aims to provide price certainty on electric power—fixing competitive energy costs for the client and providing cash flow stability to the generation asset, which is central to securing financing—which is why guarantees are so crucial in these agreements. However, PPAs can also be used to further a corporation’s sustainability goals, committing to buy only renewable energy from renewable energy projects that will be purpose-built and operated (a concept called “additionality”). As a result, companies can reduce their carbon footprint and partner with renewable generation companies with strong and recognized environmental, social, and governance credentials, thereby benefiting the environment, communities, and other stakeholders related to the renewable energy project. 

Further, to help offset the ongoing changes, currency volatility, and price fluctuations mentioned earlier, a PPA has the ability to hedge against future price increases by allowing business owners to lock in a fixed price-per-unit of electricity over the duration of the contract.

Simplifying the PPA Process

Once a company decides it is ready to engage in a PPA, the following steps can help make the process smoother:

  • Begin sooner rather than later. Even with existing volatile prices, PPAs can take several months to negotiate. And typically, the project that will commit to delivering the energy is going to be purpose-built, which can add another 1–2 years until completion. Therefore, it is better to begin now, in case even more changes arise that will affect the overall pricing.
  • Conduct research on the existing market in Latin America, state policies for PPAs in the United States, and available providers (specifically on their reputation and track record—get references!).
  • Hire an experienced advisor with an established track record to guide the process as well as qualified legal counsel and technical and financial consultants for the negotiation phase.
  • Be prepared to ask critical questions about the PPA related to pricing, indexation, buyer and seller guarantees, duration, start date, commercial operation date, and risks.
  • Involve the stakeholders who will be a part of, or potentially affected by, the PPA. 
  • Obtain approval, as needed, from senior management, a parliament or legislative body, a regulatory body, or another host government entity.
  • Once approved and signed, continue to monitor the market as it evolves, as well as the asset’s value. Specifically, it is essential to create a strategy for this process, as well as perform a mark-to-market valuation as prices evolve.

PPA Risks

With any contract, there is a certain amount of risk. Even with PPAs, which have been around since the 1980s, there are risks that engaging parties need to plan for and be aware of. Noah Lerner of the Clean Energy Finance Forum discusses some of those risks as well as basis, shape, and operational risks in his 2020 article, “Navigating Risk: A Corporate PPA Guide.”

An additional, sizable risk for structuring PPAs is the actual currency on the contract is built. An article by Greentech Media states that there are several currency risks that those engaging in a PPA need to be aware of, including local currency devaluation, availability of financing, and convertibility (i.e., converting from the local currency to U.S. dollars or another strong currency).     

Converting to a currency that reflects the company’s cash flow is one way to help mitigate these risks. One example of using more competitive, international dollar-denominated financing was Atlas Renewable Energy’s recent 15-year PPA with Dow for Jacaranda, with its multimegawatt solar project in Brazil with a client that exports its production and thus receives dollar-denominated cash flows. The contract was secured with U.S. dollar financing (67 million dollars, to be exact). As a result, the project can meet its goals of achieving round-the-clock clean energy (thanks to an additional commercial feature allowing the customer to receive electric power 24 hours a day) for its business operations, as well as benefiting from greater price certainty.  

During Volatile Times, PPAs Must Evolve    

Volatility exists in the world now more than ever, and it can have long-ranging effects. Electricity prices seem to change on a daily basis. And for regions like Latin America, fluctuating currency value is making it challenging to fund renewable energy projects at the contractual level. Right now, it can feel like risks abound. But even in highly uncertain times, there are solutions.  

What’s essential is that PPAs provide value. These agreements are at the forefront of getting renewable energy deployed worldwide. However, to do so, they must be structured in the right way so that all parties gain the price certainty and best financial outcome they need over the long term.   

But, like anything, PPAs must evolve—as conditions and currencies change, technologies emerge, and new purchasing or contracting options arise. As the renewable energy industry continues to grow, its related pricing can vary, becoming more complex. As a result, PPAs must strategically adapt to these ever-changing conditions to not only continue serving business owners and investors but help the world transition to a clean-energy (and financially feasible) future.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

The next iteration of the internet is fast taking shape but making it a reality will require vast amounts of energy. Ensuring the future digital landscape doesn’t become an environmental nightmare means opting for renewables, accelerating the energy transition, and locking in a lower-emissions framework.

Run on networks that use consensus mechanisms such as blockchain, Web3 is a new decentralized version of the internet, which aims to give individuals more control over their data and experiences.  Meanwhile, the metaverse is a yet-to-be-realized digital and immersive world that enables users to interact digitally, be that using crypto-wallets to make purchases or virtual reality headsets to explore experiences. 

While both are digital, virtual spaces, they’re very much tethered to the physical world – thanks to the energy needed to power them. 

Despite all of its futuristic promise, the basic building blocks of the new digital landscape are computers and servers, and a recent blog post from Intel suggests that our global computing infrastructure will need to be 1,000 times more powerful than it is today in order to comfortably sustain it. This comes at a heavy environmental cost. 

In a study carried out in 2019, University of Massachusetts researchers calculated that training one large deep-learning model – for example, one that allows machines to work with natural language in a virtual environment – produces 626,000 lbs of planet-warming carbon dioxide or five times the lifetime emissions of an average car. 

At the University of Lancaster, researchers ran a scenario to find out what would happen if just 30% of computer gamers moved to virtual cloud-based platforms by 2030, and found that carbon emissions would jump by almost a third.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies, which will underpin transactions in the new online world, have become notorious for their energy intensiveness, with the University of Cambridge finding that crypto mining can consume as much as 121.36 terawatt-hours a year, or more than the annual energy consumption of Argentina or the United Arab Emirates, while the New York Times calculates that bitcoin consumes roughly 0.5% of all energy worldwide.

In today’s energy mix, where the majority of electricity worldwide still comes from non-renewable sources, the huge increase in power use brought about by Web3 spells disaster for the planet.

Around the world, irreversible climate change is already underway, from hotter temperatures to more severe storms and droughts. According to the 2022 IPCC report, released earlier this year, humanity has a “narrowing window for action”, and if we are to secure a livable future, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions need to happen now.

The green way forward 

However, before immediately writing off the metaverse and Web3 as an environmental disaster waiting to happen, it’s worth noting what Big Tech is doing to reconcile its own sustainability goals with the creation of a fully immersive digital landscape. Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides cloud computing solutions for nearly a third of all web applications today, says it will power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Google has pledged to use 24/7 carbon-free energy in all its datacenters by 2030. Microsoft intends to be carbon negative by 2030, as well as halting the use of diesel in its datacenter generators. Meanwhile, Meta – which changed its name from Facebook to demonstrate just how much it believes in the metaverse – says that by 2030, it will reach net-zero emissions across its own operations and its value chain. 

What’s more, clean energy is increasingly being used to power cryptocurrency activities, with a report from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance finding that nearly 40% of proof-of-work mining is powered by renewables. This is thanks in part to the fact that renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in most markets around the world, while fossil fuels are only set to become more expensive over time. Another positive sign can be found in the Crypto Climate Accord, inspired by the Paris Agreement. The industry-driven pact’s signatories have vowed to switch to renewable energy sources by 2025 and go completely net-zero, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions altogether, by 2040.

This proliferation of commitments is already outpacing our world’s transition to renewable energy, driving up demand for a greater percentage of the grid to come from clean resources. 

To meet this demand, a decentralized digital world needs decentralized energy sources. Crypto farms will need to be co-located with renewable generation and mining when there is an abundance of energy. Data centers are already entering into direct corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable energy suppliers, enabling them to increase their actual use of clean power faster than if they relied upon the grid alone. Digital mining activities have locational flexibility, as has been shown by redeployment of its activity in response to regulatory changes, this means that digital mining activities can pursue the best geographies in terms of abundant and competitive renewable energy.  

Paving the way for a sustainable future

Ensuring that the metaverse and Web3 are powered by clean energy enables the truly transformative power of the new online world to take effect. Forward-thinking individuals who care about the future of the planet are already designing radical new ways for people and companies to be more sustainable via the new tech – from digital carbon credit coins to allow anyone to access carbon trading markets to non-fungible tokens that fund the planting of enough mangroves to sequester 20 million tons of carbon over the next 25 years.

While it’s true that – as things stand today – wide-scale adoption of the metaverse and Web3 would drive emissions up to dangerous levels, all indicators point to the companies involved choosing to combat these environmental challenges. The only viable option to power the future online world is renewables, and this huge surge in demand will drive enormous adoption of clean power, accelerating the energy transition for a better, more sustainable future.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Many companies looking to transition to renewable energy to help reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals are navigating the complexities of renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) for the first time. While every project and client is different, there are common themes that affect how an agreement is developed and executed. In this article, we explain what to consider before going ahead.

Know your counterparty

As companies around the world set emissions reductions and carbon-neutral goals, bilateral PPAs with a renewable energy producer mean these objectives can be achieved in a transparent, traceable way. Finding the right partner to develop an agile, low-cost, and care-free solution can give your company a competitive advantage, enabling you to demonstrate real green credentials while managing costs and gaining energy security. 

But not all renewables are created equal. With consumers and shareholders alike now taking a closer look at companies’ green credentials, it’s worth investigating the claims you’ll be able to make – whether that’s demonstrating that your renewable energy source has displaced a traditional source, or proving that your energy comes from a producer with a sound community relationship and social program strategy or that its generation source is certified green from origin.

It’s also important to take into account the kind of partnership you’re looking for. A PPA is a multi-year commitment, and not all developers are in it for the long haul. For many companies, building a long-term relationship with their energy provider forms part of their wider strategy. Within the PPA market, there exist two broad types of developers: those who are the long-term holders of the asset, and those who sell the asset once it reaches commercial operation. Identifying the objectives of the developer from the outset is essential to achieving long-term alignment.

Another factor to bear in mind is the developer’s performance within your market. The regulatory, investment and institutional landscape for the energy sector varies enormously from country to country. As such, it’s a good idea to find a partner with proven experience in structuring a corporate PPA within your jurisdiction, to ensure they can perform against their future commitments to you.

Bundled or unbundled

This year has seen electricity prices reach all-time record highs in many countries, making PPAs – which provide long-term certainty in your electricity costs – an even more attractive option. While now is a key time to think about how a PPA can protect you against energy price uncertainty by locking in long-term supply deals and pricing with suppliers, it’s important to bear in mind the other benefits that PPAs can bring.

PPAs can be undertaken for power only, the green attributes of the power only – usually represented by instruments such as renewable energy certificates (RECs) – or for both together, in a bundle. Purchasing just the electricity will provide a medium to long-term hedge against electricity price volatility, while a bundled PPA will give the additional benefits of being able to claim the environmental benefits of renewable energy production in order to reduce Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity.  

Keep an eye on currency risks:

For corporate treasurers, particularly those handling the finances of multinational companies, putting in place effective risk management strategies to mitigate the impact of currency exposures is a perennial focus. As inflation heats up, analysts are predicting greater FX volatility ahead. For large energy users, for whom electricity costs can account for their largest outflow of cash, reducing currency risk from energy purchases can provide greater certainty and protection.

One way of achieving this is through hard-currency denominated PPAs. Part of a relatively nascent trend, particularly in emerging markets, they’re not available everywhere, however at Atlas, we have the skills and experience to structure renewable PPAs in creative and advantageous ways.

One example is the PPA between Atlas Renewable Energy and global mining company Anglo American. Finalized in March 2020, it was Brazil’s largest solar energy purchase and sale contract of its time, with a value of US$183mn. The agreement, denominated in US dollars, allowed for the supply of around 9TWh during the 15-year life of the contract from the Lar do Sol – Casablanca I PV plant, located in the State of Minas Gerais. 

Look to your future electricity demand profile:

We’re in the midst of an energy transition that continues to evolve. According to McKinsey’s Global Energy Perspective 2022, power consumption is projected to triple by 2050 amid increased electrification, while at the corporate level, a recent report by KPMG found that two-thirds of global organizations have accelerated their digital transformation strategy, bringing online power-hungry ICT services, from networks to servers, storage, and applications.

As a result, depending on where you are on your internal digitization journey, it’s worth taking stock of your own electricity demand profiles and how they might change over the term of a PPA contract. And it isn’t only energy consumption that needs to be taken into account. Mapping out the overall load profile, including shape and time distribution, is crucial to obtaining the most appropriate PPA for your company.  

Don’t go it alone:

Setting up a PPA can be complex and time-consuming, and involves many different functions, from the C-suite through to operations, finance, procurement, and even marketing. It’s important to pinpoint the key risks you want to manage, and the benefits you’re looking to attain. 

Atlas Renewable Energy has developed innovative models that make it easier for companies to engage in PPAs, but we want our corporate energy buyers to make informed decisions. That’s why we advise you to allocate time and resources – or appoint external advisers – to ensure that your renewable energy procurement strategy is a success. 

Our team has almost two decades of experience in structuring corporate PPAs, from concept to operation. No matter the industry, we can structure a solution to suit each company’s specific needs. 

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

In the wake of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in November, countries have come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

To deliver on these commitments, large corporate energy users will play a key role. Today, a growing movement toward net-zero industrial hubs provides a unique opportunity for corporations around the world to align themselves with the Paris Agreement goals – as well as increase the adoption of renewable energy.

From the aerospace cluster in Queretaro, Mexico to the automotive cluster in Detroit, Michigan, companies have been co-locating in dynamic ecosystems for decades. Sharing resources, problems, and solutions, industrial parks act as economic growth engines while boosting opportunities for increased efficiencies.

Now, as the fight against climate change becomes more urgent, these co-located industrial parks can be leveraged in a new way: to cut emissions down to zero.

How do net-zero industrial clusters work?

The energy and industrial sectors are responsible for as much as two-thirds of the world’s CO2 (around 22 gigatons per annum), according to a new report by Accenture in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

If companies located within clusters can work together to make the most of new clean technologies and processes, and at the same time maintain or increase productivity, increase the green credentials of their products, and enhance the environment, they can become part of the solution – instead of part of the problem.

What this looks like in practice varies dramatically, depending on the region and type of industry.

At their heart, though, net-zero industrial clusters are a set of facilities, plants, and linked infrastructure dedicated to the reduction and elimination of greenhouse gases through the application of clean energy and emissions control technology.

Through on-site renewables generation, shared dispatchable zero-carbon sources, storage, and microgrids, industrial clusters can tap into the opportunities presented by clean energy to not only reduce emissions but also enable companies located at the sites to meet their own internal sustainability targets. And because of the cluster set-up, if energy demand cannot feasibly be supplied by on-site renewables, companies can pool demand for renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) instead.

Net-zero industrial clusters today

Net-zero industrial clusters are still a relatively new concept, but one which is gaining ground as cities and nations seek to reach net-zero carbon by 2050 or sooner, at the lowest possible cost to their citizens and businesses.

One such example is the Suzhou Industrial Park. Situated in Jiangsu, China, it is one of the largest and most modern industrial parks in the world. Spread over an area of 288 km2 and home to over 4,000 businesses, the industrial park offers a range of cost-effective, low carbon, and net-zero energy and infrastructure solutions that allow companies located there to track and improve their energy efficiency and emissions in line with their own sustainability goals.

Meanwhile, in the UK, where the government has made a commitment to deliver four low-carbon clusters by 2030 and at least one fully net-zero cluster by 2040, there are numerous promising examples.

One is the Humber industrial cluster, in Yorkshire. Home to industries such as refining, petrochemicals, and manufacturing, this is the country’s most carbon-intensive industrial cluster in the country, emitting 12.4 million tons a year. The plan is to create a shared carbon capture and storage infrastructure alongside the world’s first negative emissions power station, which will enable industries in the region to produce low carbon chemicals. There is also the potential to incorporate green hydrogen production, making use of increasing supplies of renewable energy from offshore wind in the Humber region.

As these projects begin to mature, interest is growing in the US and Latin America, too, with a recent study by the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University identifying opportunities for net-zero hubs in Houston.

Putting it into practice

While net-zero industrial clusters are a great idea in theory, in practice they’re less simple to implement. Most businesses, cities, and states don’t have the ability to start a net-zero transformation from a clean slate, and retrofitting legacy systems for energy efficiency and net-zero carbon involves significant costs. What’s more, not all large carbon emitters are located in clusters, so creating net-zero industrial parks only goes part of the way toward solving the issues.

However, we believe that the net-zero industrial cluster movement presents an exciting opportunity to facilitate and promote the adoption of renewable energy, as companies work hard to meet their climate goals. And for those companies that don’t yet have the opportunity to join a cluster, alternatives are already available.

One of the most effective alternatives for companies seeking to meet emissions reduction objectives is Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Around the world, approximately 70% of companies with net-zero targets already utilize RECs as part of their renewable electricity procurement strategies. The use of RECs enables a company to state that it uses renewable electricity from a low or zero-emissions source, and because they provide flexibility in sourcing green power from anywhere in a given country, even companies located in regions without abundant renewable energy resources can benefit.

Another option is through PPAs, which allow corporate consumers to purchase a certain amount of renewable energy from a specific asset under a predetermined pricing arrangement. Approximately 45% of companies with net-zero targets sign these agreements as part of their renewable electricity procurement strategies, and their use is growing as more and more companies seek to tap into the benefits of renewable electricity to achieve their sustainability goals.

However, RECs and PPAs alone will not get companies to carbon neutrality. Daily operations like water use, packaging production, and the use of non-electric equipment all have a carbon footprint, which is why net-zero industrial clusters are so compelling: through shared infrastructure and carbon capture technology, they enable new business models that can contribute to preventing the worst effects of man-made climate change.

For the time being, however, until net-zero industrial clusters become a widespread global reality, the next best thing for large emitters is to take a serious look at their energy use strategies and consider implementing PPAs, RECs, and other tools to set their course for the path to net-zero.

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Se prevé que para el 2050, la población mundial aumente en casi un tercio, es decir, 2,000 millones de personas más. Dado que la cadena de producción de alimentos es una de las que más contribuye al calentamiento global, alimentar al mundo sin abrumar al planeta se ha convertido en algo urgente. Hoy en día, a medida que un número creciente de empresas y países asumen el reto del cambio climático, y los consumidores empiezan a exigir productos sustentables, la industria alimentaria está cambiando… rápidamente. 

Muchas marcas están trabajando en la salud y el bienestar, creando productos más saludables con el abastecimiento sustentable de materias primas. Mientras tanto, la atención a los derechos humanos y laborales en la cadena de suministro ha hecho que las empresas se unan a iniciativas como el Comercio Justo para garantizar que quienes trabajan para producir los alimentos que comemos lo hagan en condiciones seguras y reciban un salario justo. Reducir el uso de agua y el impacto de los residuos también se ha convertido en una prioridad importante, y muchas empresas están sacando al mercado productos con envases reciclables, por ejemplo.

Pero si no se aborda el gran problema del uso de la energía y las emisiones, ninguno de estos esfuerzos tendrá un impacto significativo en el futuro de nuestro planeta.  

Desde la producción de cultivos, la silvicultura y los productos cárnicos y pesqueros hasta el almacenamiento y la transformación de los alimentos, el transporte y la distribución y la preparación de estos, la cadena de valor agroalimentaria consume hoy el 30% de la energía disponible en el mundo y es responsable de hasta una quinta parte de todas las emisiones mundiales de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI). A medida que la población crece y las necesidades alimentarias aumentan, hay que encontrar una solución que reduzca el uso de combustibles fósiles sin dejar de alcanzar los objetivos de productividad alimentaria.

Afortunadamente, las empresas líderes del sector, desde los minoristas hasta los procesadores agroalimentarios, están tomando medidas para conseguirlo, como optando por fuentes de energía renovables.

Desde el compromiso del minorista Walmart de obtener el 100% de su electricidad a partir de fuentes renovables para 2035, hasta el trabajo del productor mundial de confitería Mars, que ya ha convertido varias de sus operaciones en energía 100% renovable, y el compromiso del productor de frutas y verduras Dole de lograr cero envases de plástico de origen fósil para 2025 y cero emisiones netas de carbono en todas sus operaciones para 2030, las empresas de toda la cadena de valor alimentaria se están tomando en serio sus responsabilidades.

Pero no sólo los grandes nombres conocidos pueden marcar la diferencia. En los últimos años, los consumidores de todo el mundo son cada vez más conscientes del impacto medioambiental de las marcas que compran y esto incluye a las empresas de alimentación y bebidas. Según la Harvard Business Review “los productos que tenían una declaración de sustentabilidad en el envase representaron el 16.6% del mercado en 2018, frente al 14.3% en 2013, y aportaron casi $114 billones en ventas”. Y lo que es más importante, los productos comercializados como sustentables crecieron 5.6  veces más rápido que los que no lo eran.” El estudio añade que los consumidores están ahora “comprando activamente más productos respetuosos con el medio ambiente”, y algunos están incluso dispuestos a pagar una prima por productos de alimentación y bebidas que siguen prácticas empresariales sustentables. Además, las prácticas medioambientales de la industria alimentaria están bajo constante vigilancia de los gobiernos y las ONGs, debido a su gran impacto ante el cambio climático.

Abordar su huella de carbono, junto con otros objetivos relacionados con los SDGs, es vital para las empresas de todos los tamaños que quieran mantener su cuota de mercado y contribuir a un futuro sustentable.

La oportunidad de las energías renovables 

En los últimos años, los acuerdos de compra de energía solar (PPA) en los sectores comercial e industrial han contribuido enormemente al crecimiento de las energías renovables. El año pasado, las empresas compraron un récord de 23.7GW de energía limpia mediante acuerdos a largo plazo, a pesar de la devastación causada por la pandemia de Covid-19 y la recesión mundial.

Para las empresas del sector alimentario, los PPAs solares son especialmente útiles, ya que la demanda de energía de calefacción y refrigeración de los procesos, el bombeo y la ventilación de las instalaciones y la iluminación es mayor durante las horas de luz, incluso en instalaciones que funcionan las 24 horas del día.

Aunque el sector también ha recurrido a otras fuentes de energía renovables, como la conversión de la biomasa en energía, éstas no están exentas de emisiones. Transformar los residuos orgánicos en biocombustible no sólo es un proceso caro y complejo, sino que además produce gases de efecto invernadero por la combustión, por lo que, aunque la energía de la biomasa sea una fuente renovable, no resuelve el problema de las emisiones.

Al firmar un PPA solar corporativo, una empresa alimentaria puede reducir los gastos de energía y las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero simultáneamente, sin afectar al flujo de caja mensual. 

Por supuesto, las empresas del sector también pueden adquirir sus propios sistemas de energía solar pero esto requiere un capital que podría utilizarse para invertir en la ampliación de la capacidad de producción, la innovación de nuevos productos o la entrada en nuevos mercados. Con un PPA solar, las empresas alimentarias pueden utilizar el capital ahorrado para mejorar la sustentabilidad en otros ámbitos de su negocio, desde el aumento de la eficiencia energética hasta la mejora de los equipos.

Con un PPA corporativo las empresas también pueden acceder a otro tipo de ahorros que no son evidentes por adelantado. Cuando las empresas de producción de alimentos obtienen su energía de la red, están sujetas a los aumentos de las tarifas de las empresas energéticas, y con los precios de la energía al por mayor alcanzando máximos de varios años en varios mercados, muchas están sintiendo ese aumento. Un PPA establece claramente el precio de la electricidad durante la duración del contrato, asegurando la seguridad en un momento en que las empresas se enfrentan a la extrema volatilidad del mercado.

Los PPA solares no sólo ofrecen una reducción de los gastos energéticos, sino que brindan a las empresas alimentarias la oportunidad de ser más responsables desde el punto de vista medioambiental, al tiempo que afrontan el reto de alimentar a 2,000 millones de personas más en los próximos años. 

Sin un cambio a la energía renovable, no hay forma sustentable de que las empresas del sector de la producción de alimentos mantengan el ritmo de la creciente demanda. Alimentar al mundo sin destruir el planeta en el proceso es una de las cuestiones más importantes de nuestro tiempo, y las empresas del sector deben actuar ahora, tanto para hacer más sustentables sus operaciones internas como para exigir que los proveedores a los que compran también lo hagan.

Cómo puede ayudar Atlas Renewable Energy

Atlas Renewable Energy fue concebido con la sustentabilidad en su núcleo. Desarrolla, construye, financia y explota proyectos de energía limpia en todo el continente americano que permiten a las empresas alimentar sus operaciones de forma sustentable.

Con una sólida experiencia en la gestión de acuerdos de compra de energía renovable (PPA) a largo plazo y certificados de energía renovable (RECs), Atlas ayuda a  los grandes consumidores de energía de todos los sectores a cambiar a la energía verde y a gestionar su transición hacia las emisiones netas cero. 

Para conocer más sobre el enfoque de Atlas Renewable Energy y cómo puede ayudar a su empresa a cumplir sus objetivos de sustentabilidad, póngase en contacto con nosotros en

En colaboración con Castleberry Media estamos comprometidos con el cuidado de nuestro planeta, por lo que este contenido es responsable con el medio ambiente.

Worldwide, the pressure to move toward a clean, carbon-free future is stronger than ever. Today, “going green” is more than just a lofty idea—it’s becoming the very basis of how many companies do business.

According to a 2022 article in CNBC, corporate giants like Microsoft, Intuit, and Apple are examples of those leading the charge by committing to environmentally sustainable business practices. And those types of actions are being adopted not just by big corporations, but small businesses as well.

Consumers are also becoming more thoughtful about their purchases, seeking products or services that align more with their environmental stance. Yet, with clever packaging and language intended to appeal to an environmentally conscious audience, many companies may mislead consumers—whether intentional or not—into thinking they are more sustainable than they really are. Enter greenwashing.

Greenwashing: using a clean concept to cover a not-so-clean secret

Words matter—especially when those words convey a certain message about what a company stands for or how it operates. The use of words like “green,” “eco,” “sustainable,” “natural,” or “conscious” is rampant, but for some it’s not warranted, and is known as greenwashing.

Specifically, greenwashing is deceiving potential consumers into thinking a company’s products or services are environmentally friendly, but with no real proof to back those claims. Greenwashing can also include inflating the truth in a way that highlights one environmentally friendly aspect of a business to cover up for another, less eco-friendly aspect; for example, an oil company who installs solar panels on its gas stations[AS2]  but then continues to profit heavily from fossil fuels.

Raising the stakes

Although greenwashing is on the rise, so are the consequences of engaging in it. A recent survey shares several examples of litigation cases related to greenwashing—as well as the following specific advice:

Luckily, greenwashing can be avoided. According to, there are a number of ways to stay on the right side of promoting an environmentally friendly business, and it starts with honesty. One key step is avoiding vague language that cannot be proven. Another is being transparent about areas of the business that are sustainable and others that are not. Or presenting real data to measure the company’s carbon footprint and taking real action to make positive changes, and then sharing that information publicly.   

Eversheds Sutherland states, “One of the lessons to be taken from recent filings is that companies should avoid wide sweeping, broad statements about their sustainability efforts and should avoid advertisements focused solely on the end-product or service they provide. Like all claims for misrepresentation, the truth is the best defense. If a company can support concrete statements with concrete sustainability efforts and firm data, the better able they are to neutralize and defend the greenwashing claims that are now flooding the US litigation landscape.”

Telling the truth is further encouraged by the fact that consumers are becoming wise to greenwashing. Information is everywhere, and it’s easier than ever to confirm if a company is truly environmentally sustainable or not. Furthermore, the scandal caused by greenwashing can leave a permanent mark on a company’s reputation, and ultimately, their bottom line. 

Moving from green washing to the gold standard

Becoming a sustainable business can start small. An article by Inc. provides some helpful tips to begin this process, from replacing traditional light bulbs and eliminating plastic bottles in the office to engaging only with trusted green vendors. American Express offers further insight, such as conducting an environmental audit, repurposing or redesigning products, and rewarding environmentally conscious behavior.

But to truly get to the next level of becoming a sustainable, green business, next-level changes need to occur. It requires a concerted effort by a company’s top leaders and permeates down and throughout the organization, with the ultimate goal of generating sustainable changes at scale and having a real impact on staff, consumers, and the environment.

Creating a green culture

The first step in creating a truly green business is to create a green culture. To accomplish this, leaders must determine what it means to be an environmentally conscious business, and how that affects employees, customers, and the planet as a whole. This step might involve creating a mission statement that is communicated and upheld in a significant way to all staff; a statement that inspires and aligns with the company’s core values. Essentially, it provides a solid foundation on which the rest of the business can operate from going forward.

Key to this effort is engaging the company’s greatest asset—its employees—and encouraging their role in sustaining the new culture. More and more job seekers are looking to work for green companies, so adopting a green culture can not only motivate existing staff but new hires as well.

Taking a hard look at the business

Once a company knows what it is striving for, leaders can begin to dig deep into assessing everything from how the business runs on a daily basis to the sustainability of its products or services (and specifically, its supply chain). This step will likely take the longest, as it requires delving into the details and looking at every procedure, policy, vendor, and so on. Company size will determine where to begin, with smaller businesses likely starting with easy “wins” and larger companies starting with the big picture, such as assessing the amount of energy consumed across the business. During this process, some key questions to consider include: 

  • How efficient is the building (or buildings) the company resides in, and can improvements be made (such as adding solar panels)? 
  • Is the entire supply chain built/focused on sustainability? Where are there gaps or inefficiencies?
  • How are vendor materials produced? Do they comply with environmental regulations?  
  • How are products manufactured and packaged (using recyclable or eco-conscious materials in low-carbon facilities) or services delivered (via excessive traveling or number of vehicles on the road)?  

Seeking help

The good news is that a company doesn’t have to take on this seemingly monumental effort alone. Not only is there extensive guidance available, but there are experts in the field who can help. The Green Business Bureau can provide a good starting point. Or, a company like Atlas Renewable Energy can help large consumers of clean energy shift to less-expensive sources of energy. Focused on operating with the highest of standards and adhering to its own sustainable development goals, Atlas has the deep knowledge and real-life experience to develop custom-made power purchase agreements that empower consumers to realize their clean energy goals. 

Or if budget is a concern, a company could develop the mission on their own and then work with consultants on specific activities, like gathering data on key aspects of the business that can be more sustainable. Furthermore, smaller companies might seek out applicable power purchase agreements or renewable energy certificates to help finance their efforts.  

Encouraging ongoing, sustainable change

In the current race to a carbon-free future, good intentions are no longer enough. Words must be used thoughtfully to tell the truth of what a business is, who it serves, and how it operates—and ultimately, what its environmental impact is. And that process begins with taking a deeper look at how a business can do better, from top to bottom, at every level.

An article in Forbes states, “By investing in good people, staying accountable and committing to a mission of sustainability inside and out, businesses in 2021 can push the world toward a better future while strengthening their own positions as market leaders in the bargain.”

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

Among the world’s biggest tech companies, clean energy deals and climate goals have become a source of rivalry. Today, five of the top 10 technology firms worldwide by market capitalization are powered by 100% renewable electricity. However, a gap is emerging between laggards and leaders, with some of the biggest electricity consumers having the lowest share of renewable energy usage.

Digital and data solutions have an unprecedented opportunity to make a major and essential contribution to the global climate effort. Launched at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, the Tech for our Planet challenge program highlighted how innovations, from artificial intelligence to blockchain and big data, can help the world meet net-zero targets.

Indeed, according to a recent report from the International Telecommunications Union, digital technology could help reduce the world’s carbon emissions by about 17%.

But with power-hungry data centers and supply chains that span the planet, unless every tech company around the world is powered by clean energy, the industry will never be able to create climate action at scale.

Choosing a sustainable future

After coming under increasing scrutiny over the last few years over their environmental impact, leading tech giants have taken huge steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, with actions such as waste reduction, hardware recycling, and responsible supply chain sourcing. However, by far and away the most impactful aspect of these companies’ sustainability strategies is the transition to renewable energy.

Among the big hitters, Google has pledged to power its operations entirely with carbon-free energy by 2030, and since 2017 it has matched 100% of its global electricity use with purchases of renewable energy. Meanwhile, Microsoft recently announced that by 2030 it will have 100% of its electricity consumption matched by zero carbon energy purchases. It’s a similar story at Facebook, which achieved its goal of sourcing 100% renewable energy to support its global operations in 2020.

These tech companies have been able to achieve these aims by leveraging their enormous investment capacity.

In 2019, Google signed the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history, with a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements that included 18 new energy deals. Today, its worldwide energy portfolio produces more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year. Facebook is also one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy, with current contracts in place for more than 6.1 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries. And over the last 12 months, Microsoft has signed new purchase agreements for approximately 5.8GW of renewable energy across 10 countries around the globe. 

But even for companies with slightly less financial firepower, going fully renewable is not only possible but in many cases can represent a cost saving. Thanks to technological advancements that have pushed the efficiency of solar installations close to their theoretical maximum – such as bifacial panels, which catch rays from both sides, and electronics that enable solar panels to track the sun as it moves through the daytime sky – harnessing the sun is increasingly cost-effective.

By 2030, the take-up of cloud computing is forecast to increase exponentially, from US$1.3bn in 2019 to US$12.5bn, according to BloombergNEF. Ultimately, renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many markets, and because electricity is the main outlay for tech firms, by using solar or wind power, they can keep costs down even as demand for their services – such as data centers – soars.

Room for improvement

Estimates of the tech sector’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions vary, from 1.4% to 2.3%. Unlike sectors such as aviation or shipping, much of its carbon footprint depends on electricity consumption – rather than the burning of fossil fuels – which makes it relatively simple to decarbonize. And taking advantage of this low-hanging fruit will have a sizeable impact: according to research by Ericsson, if the tech sector were to make the switch to renewable energy sources, it could slash its overall emissions by as much as 80%.

While Big Tech is well on its way to 100% renewable energy, some of the sector’s largest energy users still rely on conventional power for the majority of their electricity needs. And as scientists warn that global emissions must be cut by half by 2030 in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, this has to change – and fast.

One issue is that variable generation of renewable power does not always align with the timing of the buyer’s electricity consumption – which means that they have to fall back on carbon-emitting alternatives such as coal or gas-fired electricity generation.

Solving for this means thinking out of the box, and Big Tech is increasingly doing this. A recent flurry of commitments from companies to match their electricity demand, hour by hour, with carbon-free electricity sources, is a huge positive move in the right direction.

While this is a recent development, Atlas believes that this is the beginning of the next step towards achieving the renewable energy transition, and one that Atlas is keen to facilitate. Through advanced structuring capabilities developed over the past year, Atlas is now able to provide load profile solutions for energy consumers. This is achieved through the appropriate design of a portfolio of renewable energy projects in which Atlas can deliver the expected hourly demand in the hubs where the load requirements are located.

As shareholders and investors set decarbonization targets, and consumers clamor for change, demonstrating leadership in clean energy has become central to corporate strategy across the tech sector – and the renewable energy sector is rising to meet the challenge.

With new financing options and business models that lower the barriers to entry, signing up to 100% clean energy is no longer restricted to the top tier tech behemoths. Thanks to corporate power purchase agreements (PPA), long-term contracts under which a business agrees to purchase electricity directly from an energy generator, the opportunity is now available for all players, across the technology sector, to take a vital step towards a net-zero future.

How Atlas can help

Without a shift to renewable energy, there is no sustainable way for businesses within the tech industry to continue with their electricity-heavy operations. Tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions is one of the most important issues of our time, and companies in the sector must act now.

Atlas Renewable Energy was conceived with sustainability at its core. It develops, builds, finances, and operates clean energy projects across the Americas that enable companies to power their operations sustainably.

With a range of services, from renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) to renewable energy certificates (RECs), Atlas helps large energy consumers across industries make the shift to green energy and manage their transition to net-zero emissions.

To find out more about Atlas Renewable Energy’s approach and how it can help your company meet its sustainability goals, email us: 

In partnership with Castleberry Media, we are committed to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.