In our increasingly digital world, power is one of the main “cost centers” and most large Internet and telecom companies are grappling with this problem in unique sort of ways. Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) are putting their data centers right next to hydroelectric power generation plants in remote locations. British Telecom (BT) is looking at wind power as source of energy.
The UK-based incumbent telecom operator is going to invest close to half-a-billion dollars in wind farms, betting that they will help meet 25% of company’s power needs by 2016. It is one of the largest consumers of power in UK.
BT is one of Britain’s biggest consumers of electricity, with an annual requirement of around 0.7 per cent of the UK’s entire consumption. BT’s wind farms could generate a total of 250MW of electricity – enough to meet the power needs of 122,000 homes or a city the size of Coventry. This would prevent the release of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared with coal generation – equivalent to a quarter of a million return air trips to New York. [Press Release]
The BT investment is the largest investment in renewable power by a non-power company in the UK. The company hopes to have 50 turbines generating 100 megawatts by 2012 and the rest will follow by 2016.
Richard Tarboton, BT’s head of energy, told us many of the turbines would be installed on BT owned land. “We’ll be working in partnership with our neighbors to acquire the rights to build on their land. A turbine doesn’t take up much space, so on a farm, for instance, they could still work the land. It will be a question of working out a deal with the landowner on a case-by-case basis.”
The move has been greeted with enthusiasm by many cleantech experts.
Jonathon Porritt, programme director of Forum for the Future, said: “It’s a substantial investment, guaranteeing very low carbon energy for BT for the foreseeable future, and precisely the kind of decisive, ambitious intervention that more and more companies are going to have to come forward with.” [The Register]