If you use a personal computer, chances are you’ve used an Intel product. However, you might not know that the chip you used to surf the Internet was most likely made with 100% green power.
Intel is the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer based on revenue, but they’re also the biggest consumer of green power in America, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Green Power Partnership list.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with businesses, government, and higher education entities on a voluntary basis to encourage the use of green power. Intel dominates the most recent list, leading both the National Top 50 list of annual green power usage and 100% Green Power Users, both by kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The EPA broadly defines green energy as the renewable energy resources and technologies providing the highest environmental benefits. Usage figures are based on annualized contract amounts and only include power from US-based power resources. EPA allows partners to include any combination of renewable energy certificates, on-site generation, and green power products from utilities.
Intel Inside, Green Outside
According to EPA, Intel purchases more than 3.1 billion annual kWh of renewable energy certificates from wind, solar, geothermal, low-impact hydropower, and biomass. The company has also installed nearly 7 megawatts of on-site installed solar power.
Cumulatively, Intel’s actions have the annual equivalent environmental impact of removing more than 455,000 passenger cars from the road or avoiding the amount of electricity needed to power 327,000 average American homes.
Intel has held the top spot on EPA’s ranking since 2008, and the amount of green power it has consumed has risen exponentially per year. In 2011, the company purchased 2.5 billion kWh of green power, up from 1.4 billion in 2010.
Wal-Mart Leads In On-Site Green Power
While Intel may use the most kWh of green power, EPA’s list has a completely different leaderboard when filtered by total on-site generated green power.
Wal-Mart tops the list of annual on-site green power usage with 174,835,668 kwh, more than twice the amount of its closest competitor, representing 1% of the company’s total electricity use. The company uses a combination of biogas, solar, and wind power, and purchased more than 576 million kWh of green power over the entire year. It’s also worth noting Wal-Mart ranked fifth overall on the National Top 50 list.
Government entities also shone in the On-Site Generation list, with nine entities in the top 20, led by the US Air Force’s 36,988,080 kWh of on-site power. Seven West Coast municipal governments placed in the top 20, led by San Francisco’s 31,821,946 of on-site power.
Cumulatively, the Top 20 On-Site list generated more than 570 million kWh of on-site green power, equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 60,000 average American homes.
Government, Corporations, Higher Education Go Green
Looking beyond individual organizations, the sheer scope of EPA’s Green Power Partnership is hard to ignore. More than 1,400 organizations voluntarily purchase more than 24 billion kWh of green power annually, the combined purchases of the Top 50 list equal more than 17 billion kWh annually, and dozens of partners meet 100% or more of their US organization-wide electricity demand with green power.
Corporations make up more than half the Top 50 list with 28 partners, and 77 overall participants among Fortune 500 companies. However, federal, state, and local governments place 15 entities in the top 50, and college and universities comprise the remaining 7 entries.
All in all, the wide range of participants in EPA’s Green Power Partnership underscore the benefits that renewable energy can have for budgets and social responsibility.
There’s much more to be discovered in EPA’s sortable database, with additional lists for the Top 20 Retail, Top 10 Federal Government, Top 20 College & University, Fortune 500 Partners, Top 20 Local Government, Top 20 Tech & Telecom, and Top 20 K-12 Schools.
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.