Akamai Technologies, the world’s largest cloud delivery platform, recently invested in an 80 megawatt wind farm in Texas. This investment (through a PPA) is designed to match the company’s aggregated energy load in Texas with new renewable energy. The project, Seymour Hills Wind Farm, was developed by Infinity Renewables and came online in 2019.
This is the latest chapter in Akamai’s long-term approach to decarbonizing its operations. 3Degrees (originally Origin Climate) has been working with Akamai since 2015 to build and implement a renewable energy strategy.
Laying the foundation
Our first project together laid the foundation when we worked with Akamai to analyze its worldwide energy use. Akamai’s energy use is not large or concentrated, but is rather small and distributed throughout outsourced data centers, beyond its operational control. With Akamai’s challenge in mind, we analyzed several alternatives including tax equity investments, virtual power purchase agreements and long-term renewable attribute purchases. We looked at environmental impacts as well as cost, benefits and risk they might entail. The Akamai team used this analysis to establish a strategy and start to engage company stakeholders.
Setting a greenhouse gas and renewable energy goal
To formalize its strategy and ensure company-wide alignment, Akamai decided to set a formal renewable energy and climate goal. 3Degrees benchmarked more than 30 other companies, calculated baseline performance for key metrics, and projected those into the future, taking into account company growth estimates, the changing grid around the world, and the impact of actions Akamai could take.
In addition to the analytical work, we helped Akamai build the materials needed to educate internal stakeholders. As a result, Akamai’s Board of Directors adopted a goal to power 50% of the company’s global network operations with renewables by 2020, and to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the same timeframe.
“The team from 3Degrees has been instrumental in helping us set goals, develop a strategy and implement projects. With its help we have been able to find new ways to invest in renewable energy that meet our business objectives.”
– Dr. Nicola Peill-Moelter, Akamai Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability
Executing the plan with an innovative PPA
With the goal in place, the company was ready to begin executing its plan. Given Akamai’s load distribution and favorable development environment, the Texas power market was selected for its first procurement. 3Degrees worked with the Akamai team to develop the procurement specs and manage the RFI and RFP process, including developer interviews. We reviewed proposals, conducted financial analysis and due diligence, provided a project recommendation and assisted with developer negotiations, accounting policies and other details.
“Only recently have companies like Akamai with small, distributed loads been able to make a meaningful impact on decarbonizing operations that go beyond purchasing unbundled renewable energy credits. We believe this can be a model for others and we’re excited to help lead the way.”
– Jim Benson, Akamai EVP and CFO
In May 2017 Akamai signed a deal to source energy from an 80 megawatt wind project in Texas. The project came online in 2019. Akamai is offsetting the energy use from its Texas cloud services operations, which are largely housed in co-location data centers. The Texas commitment represents about seven percent of Akamai’s global power load. They continue to pursue other initiatives to meet its renewable energy and climate goals.
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