Dell Uses More Renewable Energy


The manufacturer has made progress on green power, but the green movement may hurt it in in future – as users hang onto kit for longer

Computer maker Dell has announced that over a quarter of its global electricity requirements are now met from renewable energy sources.

In a statement released this week Dell said it has increased its use of renewables from 20 percent in 2008 to 26 percent. The increase is down to a series of new “energy partnerships” according to Dell in countries including the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. Power providers include Scottish Power, Swalec and EVH.

“We’re integrating green power into operations wherever and whenever possible. It’s critical that our industry help lead the way to a green economy. Aggressive energy efficiency and renewable-power targets are essential to making this happen,” said Dane Parker, director of environment, health and safety at Dell.

The company added that it now powers nine of its facilities in the US and Europe with 100 percent renewable energy including sites in the UK in Bracknell and Glasgow, as well as Frankfurt, Oslo, Stockholm and Texas.

The moves are part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2015, Dell said. The company also announced that it is “helping” (not forcing) suppliers to lower their carbon emissions. “In June 2007, the company announced that it would require primary suppliers to report CO2 emissions data during quarterly business reviews,” the company stated.

But despite Dell’s claims to want to improve its environmental standing, environmental experts, including the UK goverment’s main representative on green IT, have backed the idea of users reducing lifecycle costs by sweating assets and consuming less – which is at odds with Dell’s basic business model of selling as many PCs as possible.

Speaking at the Green IT ’09 conference in London, Cabinet Office deputy champion for green ICT Catalina McGregor, said that government departments will be asked to potentially hold onto existing IT kit longer.

“For the first time we are getting really good information out of Japan, out of the Swiss, and a number of countries about the carbon footprint of creating kit – how much water goes into creating kit, silicon, sand and on an elemental level – so please keep your eyes open because the math from that production is going to help us make a better judgment call on how long we keep our equipment,” she told an audience of government and private sector IT pros at the two day show.

Dell was also criticised by environmental group Greenpeace for rolling back on previous commitments to ban toxic compounds. In the latest update to the campaigner’s Guide to Greener Electronics, released in April, Greenpeace said Dell and HP have failed to meet promises over vinyl plastic (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs).