Verizon plans to expand the amount of solar panel projects that power its network by almost double. Following a $100 million investment in solar panels and fuel cells last year, the telco announced on Monday that it is spending another $40 million to build out 10.2 MW of new solar panel systems at eight Verizon network sites across five states.
Verizon is looking to cut its carbon emissions footprint substantially by 2020 and with this new investment the company says it will have the largest commitment to solar and clean energy out of its peers in the communications industry. With the new solar panel projects, which will be built by SunPower, Verizon says it will have 25 MW of clean energy under management, which is enough power for about 8,500 average American homes per year.
Deploying clean power technologies — both solar panels and fuel cells — at data centers is a growing trend for internet and telecom companies in the U.S. Apple, Google, eBay, and Microsoft have all been deploying clean power at data centers to help add off grid resiliency, as well as lower carbon emissions. While some companies like Google press utilities to supply them with clean power, others like Verizon and Apple end up building and owning their own clean power projects.
This new investment is in solar panel projects, both in the form of solar panels over parking lots, on rooftops and ground-mounted systems. Verizon says more than 44,000 solar panels will be used at all locations combined.
In addition to solar, Verizon has 27 fuel cells that it bought from ClearEdge Power last year. Fuel cells look like industrial refrigerators, and they use a chemical reaction to produce electricity and heat.