#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.

Clean Power

Published on June 30th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


Renewable Energy Saves Fortune 500 Companies Over $1 Billion

June 30th, 2014 by  

Renewable energy is dismissed  by some as being only for ‘greenies’ or as some kind of fringe technology, but a recent report has shown mainstream Fortune 500 companies are using it to save hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Collectively, they are saving about $1.1 billion dollars, according to the report put out by Ceres, David Gardiner & Associates, Calvert Investments, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Image Credit: QNR, Wiki Commons

Some of the companies and their annual savings mentioned are:

  • UPS ($200 million)
  • Cisco Systems ($151 million)
  • PepsiCo ($120 million)
  • United Continental ($104 million)
  • General Motors ($73 million).

AT&T has installed 11 MW of renewable energy (as of 2013). Hewlett-Packard purchased 13% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2012. IBM has saved about $477 million from its efforts to conserve energy. Both Wal-Mart and Dell could save about one billion each through similar efforts.

“The world’s largest companies are demonstrating that investments in clean energy drive strong returns. Setting and meeting renewable energy targets helps companies and their shareholders to address clear risks and seize concrete opportunities, explained Bennett Freeman, a sustainability research and policy executive at Calvert.

UPS doesn’t invest in renewable energy because it is a ‘nice’ thing to do. They see it as a viable business opportunity, “At UPS, investment in renewable energy production is subject to a rigorous for return on investment. UPS has created a viable business model by developing, engineering, purchasing, overseeing construction, and operating the solar panel arrays in-house. By utilizing a direct ownership approach, UPS has uncovered valuable best practices to produce a strong return on its investment in current and future developments.”

Pepsico reportedly gets about 4% of its energy from renewables and wants to go fossil-fuel free by 2023 in the UK and Ireland. The fact that a mainstream corporation with a global impact wants to go fossil-fuel-free at all almost seems mind-boggling.

Wal-Mart is a leader among companies for solar power capacity, with about 89 MW. The huge chain has also been accused of overstating its efforts to begreen and using them as a PR strategy. A Grist article from several years ago, doubted Wal-Mart’s commitment to clean energy, saying it would take the retailer about 300 years to achieve 100% renewables at its current rate.

The same Fortune 500 companies listed in the Ceres report have also reduced their CO2 emissions by 58.3 million metric tons, which is similar to retiring about 15 coal power plants.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The capital investment to buy and install renewables is recaptured in the cost of their electricity.

    If one takes the price that would have to be paid for grid energy and subtracts out what renewable costs then you can see the savings. (Or lack of savings where renewables aren’t a good investment.)

    Here’s how it works. A company looks at the cost of installing and maintaining a system along with the expect amount of electricity produced over a 20 year period. That gives them their cost to generate their own electricity.

    They compare that to what grid power will likely cost them over 20 years. (Including inflation.)

    The difference is savings. Can’t calculate savings unless you include system prices.

    • Brandon Smithwood

      The data we worked off of doesn’t provide NPV or IRR, but companies do report the range of paybacks for the projects. You’ll see those in the appendicies in the report. Many are getting paybacks of less than 3 years.

  • Doug

    If the US Postal Service would buy BEV delivery vans, imagine the cost savings. These vehicles cover only short distances every day with dozens of stops. Perfect for electrification.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      If the dysfunctional Congress would have let them it would be done already. BEV’s have been in the post master’s proposed budget for four or five years now.
      However instead of letting the post office run like an independent business that they claim it is, any policy or business plans still need to get government approval.

      • Matt

        Same reason they can never close a small barely used Post office, or stop saturday delievery of paper mail. Yes I know they make some money doing saturday package drop offs for UPS.

  • Mary

    Renewables don’t provide much benefit for taxpayers and wind is devastating to wildlife, but as Warren Buffet said, “It makes a great tax shelter”. He further stated that the ability to shelter money is the ONLY reason to build more wind energy facilities. I’m so glad the 1% can continue to profit off of the rest of us. That gives me a all over good feeling because it is, after all, all about them.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      In some ways Mary the tax shelters or profits to whomever don’t matter to me, I can’t afford to put up those giant turbines. However with the turbines causing reduction in coal use as can be seen in Australia right now I will continue to be grateful for my children’s ability to breath cleaner air.
      Nothing in our world is completely black or white, you have to take your good feelings from wherever you can get them, unless you enjoy going around being miserable?

    • Doug

      Renewables twenty years ago may have been questionable. However, renewables are now very cost competitive (unsubsidized) with fossil fuels and are improving efficiency every year. Fossil fuels just keep getting more expensive.

      Some wind turbines killed large numbers of birds, but this is not devastating – and is easily resolvable.

      Since 2011, over half of the worlds new energy generation came from renewables. This is a massive investment. What is the alternative Mary? Fracking?

      • Mary

        If you want more wind, you want more tracking, Doug. Wind is not a stand alone form of electrical generation. Resolution of the devastation caused by wind turbines is far from easy. Loss of habitat is the #1 cause of species extinction. Birds spend more than 90% of their lives in the air, where their habitat is increasingly fragmented by industrial wind turbines. The footprint for turbines should cause concern to anyone interested in true conservation. The USGS inter-active map shows how much land/air is already buried by turbines. These monstrosities will go down in history as one of the most ecologically devastating plans. As for renewables being unsubsidized, even the AWEA says that the wind industry cannot exist/survive without hefty subsidies. We subsidize wind more than coal, gas and nuclear energy combined – according to the Energy information Administration.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Mary, you’re shoveling horse poop.

          “Industrial” wind kills far fewer birds per kWh of electricity generated than does coal. When you fight wind you work to kill birds.

          The footprint for wind turbines is very small. You’re engaging in more dishonesty when you use the area of wind farms when talking about the amount of land wind turbines use.

          The AWEA has said that wind would survive without subsidies, as it clearly would. But subsidies are still needed to firm up the industry and not cause a disruption in the rate of growth.

          • Matt

            Just a coal, oil, NG, and Nuclear still are get subsidies.

  • Walmart is the nation’s number one importer. Followed by Target, Home Depot and other similar big box retailers. The number one exporter is a Chinese/American company who sends recyclables from the US back to Asia to package more stuff to ship to the US. Amazon would probably be on the importer list, if they didn’t have so many contractors doing back office and logistics work for them. (Hofstra University, through one of its departments produces a tally of international shipping and cargo – google using those keywords).

    For all those solar panels on big box stores and parking lots, plenty of fossil fuel is burned to move around all that stuff, which we could probably do without.

  • Offgridmanpolktn

    I have to agree that Walmart’s green efforts are mostly BS or green washed advertising. Still live near a North Georgia town where ten years ago a community vote passed a land use zoning change because they promised to install enough solar to cover fifty percent of their electric usage to avoid grid impact, and their own waste water processing station, with the store to be built within four years. Now ten years later after the city bought and demolished twenty homes, and borrowed the money from the federal government to upgrade their waste water facility the store finally opened last month. No solar, and only an on-site pump station to get the sewage to the cities upgraded processing plant that will take 25 years to pay off. And of course the store now has discounted rates on property taxes and local utility usage.
    There has also been an amazing change in the city and county government from Democrat to Republican in the same period. With no explanation as to where the republicans came up with the money to finance these campaigns in a county that is still 80% registered Democrats. But of course the local media isn’t willing to investigate this strange turn of events because gee they now have their own Walmart with its one hundred new part time minimum wage jobs. Isn’t it so wonderful (sic)

    • Walmart has installed a TON of solar. But i’m sure it’s for financial reasons. It saves the company money.

      • Offgridmanpolktn

        Not denying that they have done so in a lot places where the numbers worked out against grid prices. Was just speaking of one store where they promised it in order to get the city to purchase and condemn a large number of homes and then didn’t follow through. Most likely because of this being an area where TVA is the primary provider so compared to the rest of the country the rates are relatively cheaper. Along with the political games that were explained got them discounted rates for an undisclosed period of time.
        Of course this isn’t a single example of this type of behavior, have you not heard about the lawsuits against them for destroying the unions when buying out the competition for a takeover of the market in Africa? That was five or six years ago but should still be easy to find with a Google search.
        The main point being is that Walmart puts on a good game face in the interest of public appearance, however they are just as corrupt and worshippers of the almighty dollar as any of the fossil fuel companies. No matter what the claims of the supposedly Christian Walton family.

    • Brandon Smithwood

      @offgridmanpolktn Wall Mart contracts for solar via power purchase agreements. I’ve tried to see if there is a public statement on this, but my understanding is that they do not build solar in states where they can’t enter into a power purchase agreement. As you’ll notice in the Power Forward report, one of the recommendations is that states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Iowa change their laws so that utilities can’t prevent people and corporations from entering into contracts (PPAs) for renewable energy

Back to Top ↑