Telecommunications giant Telstra has come out on top in a new report by Greenpeace Australia Pacific that reveals which Australian telcos, data centres and tech companies are ahead in the race to switch to clean energy.

The investigation 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”.

“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”

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”.

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.




Commitment to 100% renewable electricity

Renewable Purchasing Deal



100% renewable electricity by 2025 – Australian operations



Amazon Australia

Global commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2025



TPG Telecom

100% renewable electricity by 2025 – Australian operations



Global Switch Australia

Global commitment to 100% renewable electricity by 2030



Next DC

Intent to reach 100% renewable electricity – no timeline



Equinix Australia

Global 100% renewable commitment – no timeline, via RE100




Global 100% renewable electricity by 2050, via RE100




No 100% renewable electricity commitment




No 100% renewable electricity commitment



The above table does not include new telco entrants AGL or Origin, both of whom are major coal and gas companies that have made recent forays into the telco and internet services

These two companies dwarf the above companies in terms of carbon pollution, with AGL alone the single largest carbon polluter in Australia, responsible for a staggering 8%! of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s happening globally?

Major commitments to 100% renewable electricity globally were led initially by global
tech giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft and have spread across the industry.

Today many major telecommunications, tech and data companies have signed up to the
global RE100 initiative – a global alliance of corporations committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity.

RE100 members include most of the tech majors, and telcos including Vodafone Group,
BT, Telefonia, SwissComms, Deutstche Telekom, Virgin media, KPN and others.

Most of these companies are matching commitment with action, with new procurement deals being announced around the world on a regular basis, and companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon in a race to sign deals with new wind and solar projects

Most recently Amazon took the lead for largest capacity of renewable energy deals signed, with 86GW of wind and solar projects – including 71 large scale ones – across Europe, North America, and Australia. A number of these companies – including Apple are increasingly requiring renewable purchasing from their downstream suppliers.

Global company case study: Google

Global tech heavyweight Google has been working to run its data centres on 100% renewable electricity for the last four years.

Powering the world’s biggest search engine uses so much energy that if Google were an independent nation, it would be in the top 100 highest electricity-using countries globally, using more electricity than entire nations like Sri Lanka and Zambia.

Google is doing this by purchasing enough renewable energy generation to match its global
electricity use. Since 2010, it has signed enough power purchase agreements to bring on 6.6GW of new renewable energy, which is enough to power at least 1.5 million homes, or almost every household in Sydney.

Google prioritises purchasing power from new renewable energy sources, which helps to provide the financial certainty for solar and wind projects to go ahead – this ensures that there are consistently new renewable energy projects getting off the ground and into the power grid.

Australian company case study: Telstra

Telstra was Australia’s first major telco to commit to 100% renewable electricity, announcing in March 2020 that the company will be powered by the wind and sun by 2025.
With Telstra the 14th largest electricity user in the country consuming close to 1% of electricity generated nationwide – this is a significant commitment that will help reduce
emissions in the national electricity grid.

The commitment follows Telstra’s early leadership signing two corporate power purchase agreements (PPA) in 2017. Telstra acted as lead partner in a joint off-take agreement
with the 226MW Murra Warra Wind Farm near Horsham in North West Victoria. The project commenced operation in March 2019 and supplies enough power for 222,000 homes.

Telstra is also the sole customer of the Emerald Solar Park in Queensland. The 70MW solar project started generating in September 2018 and produces enough power to supply 35,000 Queensland homes.

Telstra is continuing to pursue further PPAs in its transition to a 100% renewable powered company. While Telstra’s commitment reflects significant leadership for a major electricity user, the company has not yet cemented its leadership position by signing up to the global RE100 initiative.