Did you know the microprocessor inside your computer was likely created with renewable energy? As the largest renewable energy purchaser in the U.S. for eight years running, Intel is taking corporate environmental responsibility to a new stratosphere. Marty Sedler, Director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure, knows what it takes to offset 3.1 billion kWh in annual energy demand.
What makes you passionate about energy infrastructure?
I’ve always liked energy. I have a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Arizona and I got my start in the utility industry. I did everything from power plant operations and engineering to key account management and environmental services. I had the opportunity to work with high-tech industries and part of my responsibilities was educating organizations on how to be more energy efficient. It was a rewarding challenge to find those savings opportunities and return benefits to our partners. When I came to Intel, I started as Manager of Global Utilities. We’ve always owned all of our energy supplies, but the renewable percentage has grown tremendously over the years.
How is Intel investing in renewable energy in the U.S.?
Back in 2008, we started buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) and have become the largest purchaser in the U.S. – 100% of our electric usage is offset or supplied by green energy. That’s 3.1 billion kWh annually.
We’ve adopted RECs because they’re an entry point into clean energy. In regulated territories, you may not have the opportunity to buy green energy directly from the utility or at a reasonable price. On-site renewable projects may be limited by space, capital and time. RECs are a simple and quick way to buy renewable power, support the technology, demonstrate industry leadership and influence others to support clean energy.
But we haven’t stopped there. RECs should be just one source of renewable power in your portfolio. Intel has approximately 18 solar projects, several fuel cells, and provides over 100 EV stations for employees. We just installed 60 wind microturbines on the top parapet walls of our corporate headquarters in Santa Clara, CA. Globally, we have 45 alternative energy sites across 8 countries, 6 states and 20 campuses that are using 11 technologies and applications.
We also recently deployed a solar-battery storage-grid-tied EV fast charger, which combines power from multiple sources into batteries that will charge EVs when the sun isn’t out. It’s a really exciting advancement and has a lot of potential to solve a common barrier for solar.
"These microturbines on the roof perimeter of our corporate headquarters are one of the largest arrays of its type in the world. We’re stating boldly and clearly that we support renewable energy and climate improvement,” says Sedler.
What is your biggest challenge with greening Intel’s energy mix?
I wish it was just one! It really depends on the strategy we’re trying to implement. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it’s often economics. It’s a challenge to decide what is the best way to spend our money and then secure good returns from an investment.
We also face logistical constraints. Sometimes a property doesn’t have enough space to install a viable system. We have a number of large facilities where demand is upwards of 150 MW – a PV system would have to be impossibly large to even cover a fraction of those power needs. In addition, many of our locations have 24/7 operations that require constant power quality and on-site renewables may not guarantee that kind of reliability. There can be complications with regional utilities understanding the mutual benefit of a proposed project as well.