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Verizon sees profit in saving the planet; plans to spend $100 million on solar panels and green tech


James Gowen, Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer is expected to announce at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference today (Tuesday, April 30), that it’s planning to invest $100 million on clean power. This includes installing solar panels and fuel cells at 19 of its locations to help minimize power consumption.

Verizon is planning to get its fuel cells from ClearEdge Power, and solar panels from SunPower. Collectively, the power from the fuel cells and solar panels, which the company is expect to install across seven states, will add up to 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to power 6,000 homes each and every year.

Fuel cells are packed with inner stacks, themselves individually lined with metal catalysts. A fuel (usually a natural gas) is introduced to one side of the cell and runs over the stack. The resulting chemical reaction produces heat and electricity, which flow out the other side of the cell. One of the major environmental benefits of generating power with fuel cells are electricity’s free of carbon emissions (as long as the fuel used is a natural gas).

This also isn’t Verizon’s first foray into solar tech. Gowen noted in an interview that a Long Island fuel cell installation that powered a Verizon switching station never went down – but it’s by far its biggest to date. And if things take off for Verizon before too long, we might get to see a shift toward Green power in the mobile industry.

Verizon says that it’s aiming to drastically cut its carbon emissions footprint by 2020. If this first hundred million dollar investment turns out to be fruitful for it in the public eye (or the bottom line), it’s a good bet we could see Verizon’s sustainability effort enhanced and expedited by the end of the year. Apple, eBay, Google, and Microsoft have all been installing Green tech at their U.S. data centers recently, but as of today, Verizon looks to be leading the pack.