SAP announces renewable electricity to fully power its data centres

German giant misses its emissions target, slowly moves towards the green cloud for its customers

SAP has announced that it will power its data centres, and all other facilities, using 100% renewable electricity, pushing an environmentally friendly message as the software giant moves towards a cloud business model.

The news was included in SAP’s 2013 Integrated Report, which was made available last week, with overall energy figures creeping up – a fact the company put down to simple business growth.

Greenhouse gas emissions went up from 30.0 grams CO2 per euro of total revenue in 2012, to 32.4 grams in 2013, while total emissions amounted to 545 kilotons CO2, missing the company’s stated target of 460 kilotons. 2012 saw 485 kilotons, so it was maybe an ambitious figure set out in the first place.

SAP has an even loftier overall goal: to have emissions from operations by 2020 the same as in 2000. The report details how changing to a cloudy business model has slowed things down – without affecting the overall goal.

“As our customers increasingly leverage SAP software in the cloud, our leadership in this market means that systems that previously ran at our customers’ sites are increasingly running in SAP data centres,” the report states.

Or to put it another way – these emissions had to be numbered in somebody’s book, so don’t criticise our numbers going up because they’re in ours. Yet the move towards renewable electricity is cause for optimism and excitement.

“By using 100% renewable energy, we will dramatically broaden the reach of our sustainability efforts and align them with our cloud strategy,” the report gushes. “We believe this move will not only help the world run better, but contribute to achieving our 2020 carbon target.”

SAP already has several schemes in the pipeline to cut down on emissions, from carpooling initiative TwoGo to electric vehicle adoption and the Livelihoods Fund, planting trees in environmentally unfriendly parts of the globe.

Yet, for regular readers of CloudTech, this is more validation of what people already knew: SAP is moving towards a cloud computing business model, and the various sticky moments along the way are just occupational hazards.

Analysts had already gone through SAP’s financial results – and its revised targets – with a fine toothcomb. It’s all about tomorrow’s recurring revenue and business transformation – and it’s a similar story here.

The report also found that nine in 10 (89%) SAP employees agree that the company needs to pursue sustainability as a strategic priority. What’s your view?

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