The role of the technology behemoths

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Adam Barber
June 6, 2013
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The role of the technology behemoths

When certain industries start to look for investment, it’s obvious that they turn to the people with the money.

Historically, this has always been the natural money-men: bankers, governments, private wealth, private equity and pension funds, as well as the global oil companies.

In recent years, since the global financial crisis, however, this community has expanded to include the consumer technology businesses.

For the renewable energy sector, this is good news. Two of the technology industry’s behemoths, Google and Apple, are starting to invest in the clean energy sector.

And with the size and strength of their balance sheets, these firms can start to make significant investments.

Take Google. This week the firm announced that it has struck a ten-year deal to buy electricity from a Swedish wind farm.

The agreement comes almost exactly a week later from an announcement that the business had invested $12million in a South African solar power development.

Both of these agreements come hot on the heels of domestic clean energy deals that Google has signed in the US so far – which already amount to £1billion.

Apple is in a similar position. Although not yet in the same league as Google, like its smartphone rival, the firm has a large number of data centres to manage, which require substantial amounts of power not only to run 24/7, but also for cooling to prevent outages caused by sensitive components overheating.

What this means in practice is that technology firms can do far more for renewable energy than most realise.

Where the traditional investors may shy away, technology firms recognise the imperative for backing new technologies and the move towards cleaner forms of energy.

Will the investments made thus far by apple and Google result in a sea-change overnight for the wind industry?

Not yet, but it would be premature to dismiss these developments as a flash in the pan.

When certain industries start to look for investment, it’s obvious that they turn to the people with the money.

Historically, this has always been the natural money-men: bankers, governments, private wealth, private equity and pension funds, as well as the global oil companies.

In recent years, since the global financial crisis, however, this community has expanded to include the consumer technology businesses.

For the renewable energy sector, this is good news. Two of the technology industry’s behemoths, Google and Apple, are starting to invest in the clean energy sector.

And with the size and strength of their balance sheets, these firms can start to make significant investments.

Take Google. This week the firm announced that it has struck a ten-year deal to buy electricity from a Swedish wind farm.

The agreement comes almost exactly a week later from an announcement that the business had invested $12million in a South African solar power development.

Both of these agreements come hot on the heels of domestic clean energy deals that Google has signed in the US so far – which already amount to £1billion.

Apple is in a similar position. Although not yet in the same league as Google, like its smartphone rival, the firm has a large number of data centres to manage, which require substantial amounts of power not only to run 24/7, but also for cooling to prevent outages caused by sensitive components overheating.

What this means in practice is that technology firms can do far more for renewable energy than most realise.

Where the traditional investors may shy away, technology firms recognise the imperative for backing new technologies and the move towards cleaner forms of energy.

Will the investments made thus far by apple and Google result in a sea-change overnight for the wind industry?

Not yet, but it would be premature to dismiss these developments as a flash in the pan.

When certain industries start to look for investment, it’s obvious that they turn to the people with the money.

Historically, this has always been the natural money-men: bankers, governments, private wealth, private equity and pension funds, as well as the global oil companies.

In recent years, since the global financial crisis, however, this community has expanded to include the consumer technology businesses.

For the renewable energy sector, this is good news. Two of the technology industry’s behemoths, Google and Apple, are starting to invest in the clean energy sector.

And with the size and strength of their balance sheets, these firms can start to make significant investments.

Take Google. This week the firm announced that it has struck a ten-year deal to buy electricity from a Swedish wind farm.

The agreement comes almost exactly a week later from an announcement that the business had invested $12million in a South African solar power development.

Both of these agreements come hot on the heels of domestic clean energy deals that Google has signed in the US so far – which already amount to £1billion.

Apple is in a similar position. Although not yet in the same league as Google, like its smartphone rival, the firm has a large number of data centres to manage, which require substantial amounts of power not only to run 24/7, but also for cooling to prevent outages caused by sensitive components overheating.

What this means in practice is that technology firms can do far more for renewable energy than most realise.

Where the traditional investors may shy away, technology firms recognise the imperative for backing new technologies and the move towards cleaner forms of energy.

Will the investments made thus far by apple and Google result in a sea-change overnight for the wind industry?

Not yet, but it would be premature to dismiss these developments as a flash in the pan.

When certain industries start to look for investment, it’s obvious that they turn to the people with the money.

Historically, this has always been the natural money-men: bankers, governments, private wealth, private equity and pension funds, as well as the global oil companies.

In recent years, since the global financial crisis, however, this community has expanded to include the consumer technology businesses.

For the renewable energy sector, this is good news. Two of the technology industry’s behemoths, Google and Apple, are starting to invest in the clean energy sector.

And with the size and strength of their balance sheets, these firms can start to make significant investments.

Take Google. This week the firm announced that it has struck a ten-year deal to buy electricity from a Swedish wind farm.

The agreement comes almost exactly a week later from an announcement that the business had invested $12million in a South African solar power development.

Both of these agreements come hot on the heels of domestic clean energy deals that Google has signed in the US so far – which already amount to £1billion.

Apple is in a similar position. Although not yet in the same league as Google, like its smartphone rival, the firm has a large number of data centres to manage, which require substantial amounts of power not only to run 24/7, but also for cooling to prevent outages caused by sensitive components overheating.

What this means in practice is that technology firms can do far more for renewable energy than most realise.

Where the traditional investors may shy away, technology firms recognise the imperative for backing new technologies and the move towards cleaner forms of energy.

Will the investments made thus far by apple and Google result in a sea-change overnight for the wind industry?

Not yet, but it would be premature to dismiss these developments as a flash in the pan.

When certain industries start to look for investment, it’s obvious that they turn to the people with the money.

Historically, this has always been the natural money-men: bankers, governments, private wealth, private equity and pension funds, as well as the global oil companies.

In recent years, since the global financial crisis, however, this community has expanded to include the consumer technology businesses.

For the renewable energy sector, this is good news. Two of the technology industry’s behemoths, Google and Apple, are starting to invest in the clean energy sector.

And with the size and strength of their balance sheets, these firms can start to make significant investments.

Take Google. This week the firm announced that it has struck a ten-year deal to buy electricity from a Swedish wind farm.

The agreement comes almost exactly a week later from an announcement that the business had invested $12million in a South African solar power development.

Both of these agreements come hot on the heels of domestic clean energy deals that Google has signed in the US so far – which already amount to £1billion.

Apple is in a similar position. Although not yet in the same league as Google, like its smartphone rival, the firm has a large number of data centres to manage, which require substantial amounts of power not only to run 24/7, but also for cooling to prevent outages caused by sensitive components overheating.

What this means in practice is that technology firms can do far more for renewable energy than most realise.

Where the traditional investors may shy away, technology firms recognise the imperative for backing new technologies and the move towards cleaner forms of energy.

Will the investments made thus far by apple and Google result in a sea-change overnight for the wind industry?

Not yet, but it would be premature to dismiss these developments as a flash in the pan.

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Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.