In blow to coal industry, tech firms push for renewable energy

Since 2008, renewable energy sources have gone from generating 9 percent of America’s electricity to 18 percent, and, as USA Today reports, a large part of that is due to tech giants such as Amazon and Google. Several of these firms have pledged to run their data centers on renewable energy.

Both Google and Apple have said that many of their facilities and data centers are running on 100-percent renewable energy. This is driving energy companies to shift their focus away from coal to wind and solar.

Renewable energy is more expensive than traditional sources, but these tech firms have the money to spend and, in doing so, they are obliging the market to adapt to them.

“We have the ability to shape the market,” said Michael Terrell, head of Google Energy Policy. “If you build it, we will come.”

This is bad news for the coal industry which has been struggling for several years now. The Trump administration has billed itself as coal-friendly, but coal companies still need to sell their product on the market and the market is increasingly demanding clean energy.

When Amazon wanted to open a data center in Virginia, it found that Dominion Power, the local utility company, did not have the means to supply it with 100-percent renewable energy. Dominion resisted at first but eventually worked out an agreement with Amazon allowing the online retail giant to obtain its energy from renewable sources.

“We thought about it, we understood their reasoning, we convinced ourselves that it was in our best interests to do it and we ended up signing,” said Dominion’s Greg Morgan.

It’s not just Google and Apple that are pushing for clean energy. Many of their suppliers have made the move to renewable energy. Nearly two dozen of Apple’s suppliers have announced that they will move to 100-percent renewable energy. These companies see it as an investment to help maintain Apple’s business.

“The smart ones are seeing it as a competitive advantage,” said Apple’s VP of environmental policy, Lisa Jackson. “They know they have an edge in competing for Apple’s business.”

Coal is not dead yet, but it is becoming increasingly clear to power companies that if they want to do business with tech titans such as Amazon and Google, they need offer clean renewable energy.

Cars

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Business

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.
Mobile

Why premium is the most overused, and least understood, word in tech

Everyone has heard the word premium, and many of us will have purchased a premium product, but what does premium actually mean, and why is it used so much in tech? Here's why it's so popular.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.