As we head into turkey day, my colleague Katie Fehrenbacher takes some time to list 10 trends in cleantech in 2012 that she’s thankful for. It hasn’t been an easy year for the industry with solar panel bankruptcies, declining federal financing, and the exit of many VCs from the sector.
Her second point, that Internet companies are now a solid customer for renewable energy is, to my mind, one of the bigger wins this year. It really has become completely unacceptable for a high profile IT giant like Facebook, Apple and Google to source dirty power for their growing data centers. It’s such an interesting trend because major power hogs like chemical manufacturing giant Dow Chemical are still singing the praises of cheap natural gas and how it can fuel their domestic plants. While data centers consume under 2 percent of global power, a real but not massive amount, there are many other sectors that use enormous amounts of power.
So as we head into Thanksgiving, I am thankful that the folks in Silicon Valley are taking the environment and climate change into account when mapping their growth strategies. But my wish is that as we move forward, more and more in the media hold other industries accountable for their power sourcing and the way to do that is to start profiling the outliers who are behaving very responsibly. Wal-mart is one such case as it’s become a champion of solar, installing panels on many of its massive retail stores. You may not love the company, but what is needed is more and more corporations in non-IT sectors stepping up and distinguishing themselves by considering their power sourcing.