Renewable energy is a rapidly-developing market and one that many companies could soon be tapping into. That is, if they haven’t already. According to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, commercial rooftops in the U.S. have some 3.2 billion square feet of surface area available for solar panel installation. If that space were outfitted with solar energy capacity, it could generate 14 percent of this country’s electrical demand. Let’s take a closer look at this emerging trend.
Apple Enters Energy Market
Apple, a company you wouldn’t necessarily think of when it comes to power and electricity, applied for federal licenses to sell renewable energy to customers in the summer of 2016. The company generates thousands of kilowatts of energy at its campuses and buildings in California, Nevada, and Oregon. Since it is producing “extra”, Apple is able to sell this excess power to the utility companies.
Google Prepares to Run on Renewable Energy in 2017
Google announced in December 2016 that it would be able to run entirely on renewable energy in 2017. Even though it consumes as much energy as the entire city of San Francisco, its primary energy sources will soon be coming from wind farms and solar panels. Google has already made deals and secured contracts with renewable energy producers to buy the energy from solar cells and wind turbines. Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, Joe Kava, told the New York Times, “We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world…It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”
Microsoft Continues to Procure Renewable Electricity
Microsoft has been powered by renewable energy since 2014 and continues to operate with power purchase agreements. It has announced it will be looking to build its own renewable electricity projects at data centers and facilities in the near future so that it can use its own energy instead of purchasing the output of wind farms. Still, it has installed solar panels across the rooftops of its Silicon Valley campus to generate some renewable energy onsite. In 2014, the company purchased 175 megawatts of wind energy from the Pilot Hill Wind project in Illinois to power its Chicago data center. The excess energy went to 70,000 Illinois homes.
BrightSource Energy Produces Thermal Energy System
BrightSource Energy is an up-and-coming green company that has taken the lead in developing a proprietary solar thermal energy system made with large mirror-like panels to redirect the sun’s rays to boil water. The water creates steam which powers a turbine to create electricity. It’s a self-generating electricity system that could eventually allow the company to sell excess energy units for commercial or residential use.
Increasingly, both major corporations and smaller businesses will be entering the energy business. Not only will these companies tap into renewable energy sources to power their buildings and equipment but they’ll also invest in systems and machines to produce energy for sale. Companies like Apple are already jumping on board and we can expect to see more of these opportunities unfold as companies continue to build renewable energy systems on their own properties and develop partnerships with local suppliers to share the wealth of their output and resources.