Despite the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate the “hostile environmental regulations” responsible for the demise of coal industry, it seems that wind and solar energy are climbing to the top of the energy food chain. According to USA Today, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple’s dedication to clean energy is effectively foiling coal’s far-fetched resurgence, doubling the US’s use of renewable energy from 9% to 18% since 2008.
Though federal and state laws are no longer significantly hindering their success, the marketplace is proving to be an even higher obstacle for fossil fuel companies, as more and more corporations set goals to limit their carbon footprint and develop more sustainable means of production. Walmart, GM, and Budweiser are among these major businesses looking to rely more on renewables, and even Appalachian Power, who generates 61% of its energy by burning coal, is realizing that fossil fuels are quickly becoming antiquated, and is looking to bring their solar and wind use up to 25% by 2031.
As Microsoft, Google and all the other big tech companies turn to renewables, so will their suppliers, creating a trickle down effect. Apple has committed its facilities to running solely on renewables, as have nearly two dozen of Apple’s suppliers. Google, though unable to run solely on renewables, has met its goal of matching its energy consumption with renewable energy purchase.
These companies are not just using an exceptional amount of renewable energy, but are controlling the industry’s progress. Amazon’s desire to build a data center in northern Virginia paired with the company’s 100% commitment to renewable energy forced Dominion Energy to reconsider and refine its policies regarding clean energy. The two agreeing to a special power purchase that would allow Amazon to contract 100% renewable energy. This move paved the way for swift progress in Virginia, with Microsoft a massive solar array in Spotsylvania County that is set to produce 500 megawatts of solar electricity starting in 2019.
The tech industry’s particular interest in renewables stems from Greenpeace’s public call-out in 2011, where they indicted companies like Google and Amazon with major data centers for relying heavily on non-renewable fuel. Considering the amount of revenue these companies produce, a hasty commitment to renewables was not dubious. “Over the last few years, the tech companies have knowingly and willingly paid a premium for green power and they’ve been willing to do so because it advanced their self-stated goals,” said Dominion’s Morgan. Now the tech industry a higher percentage of corporate investment in off-site renewable energy than any other market segment.