IMAGE: Vaclav Volrab — 123RF

The future of renewables

Enrique Dans
Oct 1, 2016 · 2 min read

The monsters that consume vast amounts of energy to source huge data centers continue to insist that a surprisingly large amount of their power comes from renewable sources, and are planning for a future in which all consumption will come from the wind or the sun. Google already buys more renewable energy than any other company in the world, detailing each of its contracts, and says that all its energy will soon come from renewable sources.

Last year, 93% of Apple’s energy came from renewables, including all of the energy consumed by its data centers. Facebook is now close to half, Salesforce buys more renewable energy than it consumes in its data centers, while Amazon, aside from building the world’s largest wind farm, has announced its commitment to sourcing 100% renewable sources. Construction of wind or solar farms by these companies is so important to them, that one might be forgiven for thinking that energy were a central part of their business.

Such is the scale of their search for renewable energy that traditional power companies they cannot access solar or wind farms recently created in the United States, because their entire output has already been bought up in future contracts by technology companies. All that is needed now is for a sufficient number of similarly minded tech companies to commit to renewables so as to make it profitable to build solar and wind farms wherever the terrain and weather permit, and even more so in countries that encourage their construction. In the case of Spain, the absence of solar panels makes no sense, while the restrictions on the use of renewables by government is irresponsible.

What have these companies seen in renewable energy? Clearly this is not just about ticking the right corporate social responsibility boxes. No, they have understood the improvements in generation through renewables, and greater efficiency makes it possible to imagine a future in which clean energy makes up a large percentage of total generation. This is not wishful thinking: in the face of the arguments put forward by traditional power companies, there is now clear evidence that more efficient energy generation through renewables makes it realistic to plan for the future.

The question we need to ask is when will society begin to see the future in the same way as these companies? When will we stop trying to prevent progress by imposing absurd taxes and implementing openly corrupt measures to block the production of clean energy? How many more years of lies about the excessive cost of producing renewable energy when the evidence to the contrary is there in black and white in the financial results of more and more companies? For how much longer will we continue to look for cheaper short-term answers rather than taking a more logical and responsible approach?

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

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