The world is getting warmer, and we must act soon. Science has proven that the generation of power from fossil fuels is the most significant factor in climate change and, the fact is, companies in the commercial and industrial sectors account for around two-thirds of the world’s end-of-use of electricity.
As a company, Interactive has made the decision to join RE100 and make the firm commitment to become 100% reliant on renewable electricity by 2025. After much investigation, we believe RE100 provides a real measure of sustainability. It’s not just a ‘tick’ against a Corporate Social Responsibility box; it’s a fully trackable, reportable and credible demonstration of a commitment to counter and even remedy climate change in the 21st century – on our own behalf, and that of our customers.
Taking climate change seriously
The Renewable Energy 100 (RE100) is a global corporate initiative bringing together businesses which have decided to stop talking about climate change – or waiting for governments to move – and just get on with doing something about it themselves. RE100 members, numbering 235 as of 1 June 2020, include many of the world’s largest technology providers including Apple, Accenture, Adobe and Atlassian – just to mention some of the As – as well as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and SAP. Other committed global brands include Coca Cola, Ikea, BMW and many global banks.
Joining RE100 involves meeting the requirements of the 2015 Paris Agreement to convert to 100% renewable electricity by 2050. For businesses, methods of doing so include generating electricity on your own facilities (such as solar or wind power) or sourcing renewable energy directly from generators or via their retailers. Electricity used by data centres account for 2-3% of global carbon emissions and is expected to rise to 13% by 2030, so switching to renewable power to drive them can make a significant impact.
Some organisations are committing to achieve 100% earlier – but those with a global footprint are experiencing limitations, given extensive renewable energy is not yet widely available in all of the countries in which they operate. As a result, they are committing to 2030 or even 2045 – while well aware that their consumers and business partners will be pressing for earlier deadlines in the near future.
Operating solely in Australia and New Zealand, where renewable energy sources and valid green offsets are more readily available, Interactive has decided to commit to powering its business with 100% renewable electricity by 2025, a full 25 years in advance.
Not only do we believe it’s the right thing to do for our employees and existing customers. It also makes sound business sense; while it might cost us more in the short-to-medium term, it will position us as a Data Centre services provider of choice with businesses similarly concerned about their sustainability in the longer term.
How we’ll achieve RE100 by 2025
Over recent years, we’ve been actively looking at ways to measure and reduce our power consumption, and therefore our emissions of greenhouse gases. Our analysis is that 97% of our carbon footprint is based on electricity use – accounted for by our six data centres across the Australian eastern seaboard.
We have been advancing plans to harvest solar energy on our premises. However, we are aware that this will not entirely meet our needs for energy, so we will also need to purchase electricity from renewable sources. Our options are to enter into a renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) or to purchase large-scale generation certificates (LGCs). The difference is that the latter are tradeable units that act as on paper as ‘currency’ for renewable energy – rather than an actual renewably generated unit.
We are committed to entering into a PPA before 2025 – but, at this stage, we are wary about entering into a long-term commitment to a single supplier. Obviously, a PPA is the optimum solution, but there is a great deal of flux and uncertainty in the Australian energy market at the current time. Eventually we will select a supplier and make a commitment – but in the short term we are purchasing LGCs.
We have already been in discussions with our business partners from whom we contract additional data centre space on behalf of our customers. One of them, Equinix, joined RE100 in 2015, and achieved its interim goal of sourcing 50% renewable electricity in 2016, a year ahead of schedule.
Lowering our carbon footprint lowers yours too!
Our commitment to RE100 by 2025 offers significant benefits to all of our customers – especially those with equipment located in our data centres. Energy usage by data centres varies according to industry, but it is typically between 5-25% of total power use.
Companies who rely heavily on technology – such as software developers and finance services will have a higher ratio of DC-to-employee power usage. Organisations based in CBD locations have more difficulty offsetting their usage by deploying solar or wind power on their own premises. Most organisations now outsource their ICT operations to third-party providers, such as data centres or cloud providers. This means that choosing a provider committed to renewable energy use can make a significant difference to your own carbon footprint – and reduce the time it takes to achieve RE100 across your own operations.
Increasingly, sustainability will become more critical for every business – as consumers, shareholders and environmental lobbyists judge them on their commitment to emission reduction. Ensuring sustainability across the entire supply chain is also rapidly becoming a keystone for attracting future investment. Sustainability is also important in attracting the best talent – because the majority of potential employees now factor in environmental responsibility when choosing a career and an employer.
By setting an aggressive goal for 100% renewable electricity use by 2025 – to be measured and validated by RE100, the world’s leading carbon reduction initiative – we believe we are investing in the future; supporting our customers meet their own and their stakeholders’ ambitions to reduce their operational carbon footprint.
If you’d like to understand how our Data Centre services can reduce your own corporate carbon emissions, visit our website or talk to your Interactive Account Manager.
Clint’s responsibilities include leading Interactive’s sustainability initiatives including RE100. He has gained extensive knowledge of Data Centre design, construction and operations over three decades. He is highly experienced in Business Continuity Management, managing disaster recovery operations for customers, leading the large-scale recovery of multiple customers affected during the Brisbane floods.