There are some familiar names on the 14-member roster of the newly formed Green Power Group - California, a partnership of companies that will collaborate on purchasing and fostering clean energy: AMD, Apple, BT Americas, Cisco, eBay, Google, HP, Intel, and Intuit. Indeed, more than half of the members of the group represent the high-tech industry.
It would be rash to attribute the disproportionate representation to the simple fact that California is home to so many tech companies. Rather, I view it as another clear indication of just how much IT businesses stand to gain from the evolution of renewable power. Clean energy not only yields feel-good CSR (corporate social responsibility) benefits while alleviating the effects of global warming; it stands to save big money for increasingly power-hungry companies with enormous datacenter power bills -- the Googles, HPs, Ciscos, and eBays of the world. Moreover, it creates a lucrative opportunity for IT companies to shape the development of the intelligent, next-generation power grid -- as well as the tools used to run it.
"The [Green Power Group - California] has a pretty good mix of industries represented. But, your observation that high-tech companies can play a critical role in developing clean tech solutions is certainly accurate," says Alexander Perera, the director of Green Power Market Development Group, part of the World Resources Institute. "The high-tech industry is very actively looking for solutions to be more efficient and use cleaner power. Their core business is innovation, and when applied to finding solutions to scaling up deployment of renewables and efficient technologies, high-tech companies can have a very positive impact."
"Efficient technologies," of course, translates to "less-wasteful, less-expensive technologies." Given the volatility of energy prices, as well as the threat of a true power crisis, clean tech is a smart investment for tech companies -- potentially "a built-in hedge on energy costs," as described by Reed Content, AMD's fellow for global environmental health and safety.