Intel installs Vietnam’s largest solar facility

Intel's Solar Array in Vietnam
The solar array atop the Vietnam Assembly and Test Factory in Ho Chi Minh City. Image Credit: Intel Free Press

Intel recently installed the largest operating solar power plant in Vietnam at Intel‘s Saigon Hi-Tech Park facility in Ho Chi Minh City. Placed on the roof of the Vietnam Assembly and Test Factory is 1,092 high-efficiency photovoltaic panels, expected to generate about 321,000 kWh per year. The system came online in April and joins a previous installation in Israel as Intel‘s second solar array outside the U.S.

Solar sites converting sunlight to electricity are now located at 15 Intel sites within four states in the U.S., Israel and now also Vietnam. The power of the sun also heats nearly 100 percent of the water used in Intel‘s facilities in Bangalore, India. Intel estimates that the solar installations at it’s facilities generate up to 5.5 million kWh annually, a good thing both for Intel‘s wallet and the environment.

Intel has topped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list of Top 50 Green-Powered Organizations every year since 2008. EPA ranks organizations that use clean, renewable electricity from a variety of sources, including solar. Intel is clearly leading the way with 88 percent of their total electricity use being green power. This adds up to 2,5 billion kWh of green energy used annually. Intel uses green power which comes from solar and other Green-e certified sources such as wind and geothermal.

Intel‘s use of green power has increased significantly since 2008 when it purchased 1.3 billion kWh of green energy. By 2010, 50 percent of the company’s U.S. power was from green sources and that jumped to nearly 88 percent in 2011. By contrast, Microsoft which made it’s debut on the EPA list in 2012 at third place, draws 46 percent of its electricity from green sources. However Microsoft recently pledged to go carbon neutral in 2013, so they seem ready to fight for top position.

Both Google and Facebook has been in the news recently for going green, but Google only just makes the EPA‘s list at 48th place with a mere 5% of it’s energy in the U.S coming from green sources. Facebook is not even on the list. Sure, both Facebook and Google have data-centers placed outside of the U.S. as well, but it still shows there is a lot more to be done for both of them.

“In the past 4 years, we’ve ‘overdoubled’ the Green power purchases we’ve made”, said Marty Sedler, Intel’s director of global utilities and infrastructure. “Currently, we are buying 2.8 billion kWh annually and that is estimated to be more than 88 percent of our U.S. energy use.”

Though solar power fulfills a modest percentage of Intel’s total electricity needs, solar installations provide tangible evidence of the company’s commitment to renewable energy, according to Marty Sedler. “Solar is something you can see, touch and feel” he said. “With energy, we’re not trying to find one single approach to sustainability. We take a portfolio approach and solar is part of that. But there’s also conservation and efficiency efforts at all sites worldwide, LEED buildings, investments in green tech and making our products more energy efficient. As times change, we’ll make changes to our portfolio, continuing to optimize the opportunities. Diversifying our energy supplies across the world will continue to be a priority for Intel.”