Oakland, Calif.—October 21, 2020—Today environmental tech nonprofit WattTime announced that Salesforce.com, Inc. (Salesforce) has begun incorporating emissionality, a practice developed by the nonprofit, as a key criteria in its renewable energy procurement strategy. Emissionality is a technique to make large-scale renewable energy projects even more impactful by deliberately siting them in locations where building new renewables displaces particularly polluting power plants. This strategic shift is highlighted in Salesforce’s new white paper, More Than A Megawatt: Embedding Social & Environmental Impact in the Renewable Energy Procurement Process. WattTime previously applied the emissionality approach with Boston University and others to help the university maximize the positive impact of a renewable energy power purchase agreement.
“Since 2012, the scientific consensus has been clear that some renewable energy projects drive up to three times more positive environmental impact than others. Salesforce just became the first major renewable energy buyer to publicly outline how it is incorporating that science into its renewable procurement decision-making,” said Gavin McCormick, WattTime Executive Director. “This is an incredibly heartening development for environmentalists everywhere. It makes sense it would be Salesforce. They were an early leader in the corporate renewable energy movement—setting a 100% renewable energy target back in 2013—and now they’ve stepped out in front once again with a compelling articulation of the role of emissionality in the renewable energy procurement process.”
Emissionality works by analyzing what will happen on the grid in response to different potential new renewable energy projects being built. One of the most-important factors is the location-specific grid mix where new renewable capacity is built and how their addition influences avoided emissions and human health benefits from displacing dirty fossil-fueled generation. Based on analysis from WattTime and other organizations, Salesforce will now consider which potential purchases would have the greatest benefit to the environment and human health—among several important criteria—before making renewable energy purchases. Because some projects can be far more environmentally beneficial than others, this approach will make it possible for Salesforce to ‘supercharge’ the environmental impact of every renewable energy purchase the company makes.
For example, a recent WattTime analysis found that electricity from a solar project built in West Virginia could have 3x greater impact than electricity from an almost identical project built in California. If widely adopted, the technique has potential to drive considerable environmental impact. A separate WattTime analysis found that if forecasted new renewable energy capacity worldwide began deliberately building in the highest-impact locations, this change would save a United States’ worth of emissions.
“As a company, we’ve been taking a hard look at what makes ‘the best’ renewable energy project,” explained Megan Lorenzen, sustainability manager at Salesforce. “Purchasing renewable energy is about much more than adding new megawatts of renewable energy to the grid. It's about improving the state of the world, which includes considering a number of factors such as land use impacts, wildlife impacts, equity issues, community benefits, and WattTime’s emissionality work, which spans both avoided emissions from a climate perspective and human health considerations for air pollution.”
Salesforce partnered with WattTime, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, CERES, the Nature Conservancy, and others on its More Than A Megawatt strategy.
WattTime is a nonprofit with a software tech startup DNA, dedicated to giving everyone everywhere the power to choose cleaner energy. We invented Automated Emissions Reduction (AER), a technique to reduce the carbon footprint of IoT devices and energy storage equipment; and pioneered emissionality, a technique to increase the emissions benefits of renewable energy.
We power these technologies with cutting-edge insights and algorithms, coupled with machine learning, to shift the timing and place of electricity use and generation to better line up with times and places where it drives the most impact.
WattTime was founded by PhD researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and in 2017 became a subsidiary of Rocky Mountain Institute. WattTime is a founding member of Climate TRACE, a global coalition working together to monitor nearly all human-caused GHG emissions worldwide independently and in real time.
Peter Bronski, Inflection Point Agency for WattTime
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