Cisco Systems next year will begin buying energy from a 20-megawatt solar power facility that will be located on 153 acres in the Sonoran Desert near the border between Arizona and California.
Cisco and NRG Renew, an independent power producer, on June 23 announced the deal, which officials with the giant networking vendor said will help Cisco hit its goal of having at least 25 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2017. The solar power facility will begin commercial operations by the end of 2016, the companies said.
Cisco has agreed to buy power from the site for 20 years. This will be used at the company's headquarters in San Jose, Calif.
"Enabling a diverse energy supply through low-carbon and renewable sources is key to meeting Cisco's energy goals set forth in 2013," Ali Ahmed, global energy and sustainability leader for the company, said in a statement.
According to NRG Renew officials, the site in the desert—called the Solar Blythe II location—has been under development by parent company NRG Energy since 2010. Temperatures reach 90 degrees or more for half the year, and the photovoltaic technology that will be used will require no fuel and little water, they said. The amount of energy created will equal the power needed to serve more than 14,000 homes every year. In addition, it will prevent more than 102,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually, which is about the same as removing more than 21,000 cars from the road.
Construction will create about 200 jobs.
The tech industry has been under pressure from environmental firms to reduce the amount of power it consumes and to increase the amount of renewable energy they use. Cisco has about 2MW of solar power being used at other facilities, including a new system in Boxborough, Mass., and the company also is focusing on reducing the amount of power consumed by engineering labs, the largest consumers of power and the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Many other major tech vendors have made strides to become more environmentally friendly. For example, Google officials said they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to make their data centers more efficient, and in February announced a deal to buy power from a San Francisco Bay-area wind farm for its headquarters. Amazon Web Services earlier this month said it was building a massive solar farm in Virginia, and Apple in February said it will spend $848 million over 25 years to buy solar power that will run all of its corporate offices, stores and other facilities in California.