Akamai Invests in Wind Farm as Tech’s Renewable Energy Demand Grows

Akamai Technologies, a content delivery network and cloud computing services provider, has invested in a Texas wind farm as it attempts to fulfill a promise to use renewable energy to power half of its global network operations by 2020.

Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) said it is making a 20-year investment in the planned Seymour Hills Wind Farm, which will be based outside of Dallas and is expected to begin operating next year. The project is being developed by Infinity Renewables, and the plan is to construct 38 wind turbines across about 8,000 acres, Akamai said in a news release. Akamai said it intends to pull enough energy from the wind farm to offset its aggregate data center operations based in Texas, which account for about 7 percent of Akamai’s global power load.

Akamai’s move is part of a trend in recent years of companies investing in renewable energy not only for environmental reasons, but also because the economics make sense, as Xconomy’s Benjamin Romano reported last week. Wind and solar power costs have dropped enough that they’re competitive with electricity generated from fossil fuel sources, with the added benefit that renewable power producers can offer customers long-term price stability.

And some corporations, rather than buying wind and solar power from utility companies, are increasingly building their own renewable energy projects or buying electricity in bulk directly from project developers. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have led the way because their electricity use has grown as they open data centers worldwide to provide cloud computing services. But smaller companies are starting to make similar investments.

“Corporate buyers have become a very important market for the growth of utility-scale renewable energy deployment, having overtaken electric utilities in gigawatts purchased in 2015,” said Matt Langley, vice president of finance and origination at Infinity Renewables, in a prepared statement. “We predict that minor energy off-takers, like Akamai, represent the next big wave of corporate buyers, and we are eager to partner with them.”

Akamai received a “B” grade in a recent Greenpeace report evaluating IT companies’ efforts to adopt and promote renewable energy. The company got high marks for transparency, commitment to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and advocacy, but got a lower grade for renewable energy procurement.

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