Written by: Laura Hoy | Hargreaves Lansdown
- Technology will play a leading role in the transition to net-zero, both through companies’ own reductions and the development of new ways to support efficiency across all sectors.
- Microsoft’s commitment to cleaning up its own operations together with the group’s position as a cloud provider could put it at the centre of the sustainable future.
- Enphase is making solar power more reliable and efficient, which will help grow renewables as a share of global energy production.
Microsoft- cleaning up the world’s act starting with its own
It would be impossible to talk about technology in a sustainable world without mentioning Microsoft. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to addressing climate change is a lack of good data. If we’re going to make progress, it’s vital to understand exactly where we’re starting. Businesses can’t make tangible changes to their carbon footprint without a clear picture of the footprint itself – and Microsoft’s Cloud for Sustainability is stepping in to fill that void.
Simply offering software that will help customers make better decisions isn’t where the buck stops. The tech sector is responsible for an estimated 2-4% of global greenhouse emissions. A lot of that is from data centres like those Microsoft’s cloud computing relies on. Microsoft’s out to change that, promising to remove more carbon than it emits by 2030. By 2050, it’s aiming to have removed more carbon than it’s emitted in its entire existence.
That’s no small feat given the group relies heavily on the existing grid – which is powered largely by fossil fuels. In the near term, the group’s purchasing energy contracts to offset its emissions. All of those contracts will be direct investments in renewable energy by 2025. But now that Microsoft has skin in the game with its bold climate pledges, it’s also throwing its weight behind policy changes that will help clean up the grid.
Enphase Energy – making renewables possible with game-changing technology
Enphase Energy’s out to make solar power more reliable with microinverter technology that helps solar panels function more efficiently. Unlike with traditional string inverters, if one panel is shaded or malfunctioning, the others can still function at full capacity. The latest iteration of the devices can create a mini-backup grid that runs on solar energy even without a battery.
Enphase also makes battery storage systems that allow homeowners to choose where the power is directed if the grid fails. This is a crucial step forward as worries about power outages and under-developed energy infrastructure threaten to derail the push toward all-electric vehicles in many places.
The US is currently the group’s largest market, but growth overseas should follow as energy independence continues to take top billing on most political agendas. It’s hard to overstate how valuable technological improvements in the renewables space are. But Enphase does have some work to do. As a relatively small business, this was the first year the group released an ESG report and it was somewhat lacking in concrete emissions data on the group’s own operations.