How telecom companies can be powered by renewable energy

Hardware and Software giants like Apple, Amazon and Google have been buying green power for nearly a decade. Sector leaders in the telecom industry, like AT&T and BT, are also shifting fast towards renewables. BT is one of more than 170 influential companies that have joined the collaborative, global RE100 initiative, which commits them to using 100% renewable energy to power all their global operations

The business case for BT to go green

For BT the process of implementing corporate sustainability started in the early 2000s, targeting to reduce 80% of its carbon emission intensity by 2016. The target was reached four years early and the estimated cost savings totalled GBP 220 million. The business case for climate action was clear (We Mean Business news).

BT’s new targets commit to reduce carbon emission intensity by 87%
within 2030, against a 2016/2017 base year. BT has 18,000 suppliers and a target to reduce supply-chain carbon emissions by 29% within 2030. “To deliver this, a simple contract clause requiring our suppliers to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption over the term of their contract with BT has been introduced. We are encouraging our suppliers to join us in buying renewable energy” explains Gabrielle Giner, Head of Sustainable Business Policy at BT. By December 2018 BT announced that it had contracted for renewable energy close to 96% of their annual consumption, including 600 retail locations across the UK. The new power purchase agreements will effectively reduce BT’s carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes CO2 emissions per year. This is equivalent of removing 40,000 vehicles from the road. Green Energy through PPAs, purchase of Guarantees of Origin and off-grid installations are some of the solutions through which BT has secured renewable energy for nearly 100% of their operations in GHG Scope 1 and 2.

Use renewables for branding

The business case for telecom companies as illustrated by BT goes beyond cost savings. Dr Thomas Hillig from THEnergy points out: “Beyond costs there are quite some additional advantages from renewable energy sourcing. Telecom companies are in constant and close interactions with their end customers. They are in an ideal position to use renewables to polish up their brand. In general, I see that energy branding will become more important. Independent power providers that sell electricity to telecom companies might need to think of how to brand their energy to provide a better value proposition for renewables.”