New report: leaders and laggards in the telco renewables race revealed

Telecommunications giant Telstra has come out on top in a new ranking by Greenpeace Australia Pacific that reveals which Australian telcos, data centres and tech companies are streaming ahead in the race to renewables, and which are still on dial-up.

The fact-sheet, Solar streaming: who’s leading the telco, tech and IT race to renewables? found that Telstra, Australia’s 14th biggest electricity user overall, is leading the telco pack with a commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2025. 

Telstra’s transition is already well underway with a power purchase agreement in 2017 from the Murra Warra wind farm in Victoria and a new power purchase, announced today from the  $100 million, 58MW extension of the Crookwell wind farm near Goulburn in New South Wales.

Telstra was closely followed by TPG Telecom, which owns major brands such as Vodafone and iiNet, and has also vowed to be 100% renewable by 2025. 

Optus, Australia’s second largest telco, is conspicuously missing in action, with no renewable electricity target to date.

REenergise campaign director Lindsay Soutar from Greenpeace Australia Pacific said that telecommunications is fast emerging as one of the leading industries in Australia’s renewable energy transition.

“As this new ranking reveals, some Australian telcos and tech companies, such as Telstra and TPG Telecom, are on a super-fast stream to clean energy. But some of the local tech industry is still buffering, with big players such as Optus and NextDC yet to say yes to a 100% renewable electricity target,” she said.

“Telco, tech and data centre companies use vast amounts of electricity, and emissions from the sector are escalating along with Australians’ insatiable appetite for internet services. Telcos and IT services consume approximately 4% of Australia’s electricity – this is equivalent to 580,000 homes, more than all the homes in Adelaide.” 

“The good news is that 98% of the reported carbon emissions of telcos and data centre companies comes from electricity, which means most of these companies can cut a massive swathe through their carbon pollution – simply by switching from coal power to 100% clean electricity.”

Trent Czinner, TPG Telecom Group Executive, Legal and External Affairs, said that making the switch to renewables was a logical move for his company.

We made the move to be powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity because it’s the right thing to do, and to meet the growing expectations of our customers, employees and the wider community. We’re very proud to be on this journey to be a more sustainable business,” he said.

The Greenpeace Australia Pacific fact sheet also looked at emerging trends in the Australian telco industry. Green, renewable-powered telcos are a growing force in the Australian market, with new polling showing that a majority of Australians (59.8%) would be more likely to purchase a mobile plan from a telco powered by clean energy.

Dirtier telcos are also beginning to emerge, with fossil fuel giants AGL and Origin making forays in the telecommunications space.

Lindsay Soutar said the overall report card for Australian telcos and IT services was “improving, but could do better.”

“Australian data centres in particular are a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. Of the data centre companies Global Switch is leading with a commitment to 100% renewable electricity – however, NextDC and Equinix still need to set hard timelines for the renewable energy transition and Fujitsu’s target year of 2050 is woefully inadequate,” she said.

Greenpeace is now calling on Optus to dial in to the telco race to renewables and commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2025, and to sign up to the global RE100 initiative


For more information please contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected] 

About REenergise: REenergise is a campaign by Greenpeace Australia Pacific calling on some of Australia’s biggest electricity using companies to make the switch to 100% renewable electricity, because it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for the bottom line.

See which companies are leading the renewables race: