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Intel said that it is committing to hitting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its global operations by 2040.

That’s later than many other companies, but it’s good to remember that Intel operates $10 billion sprawling chip manufacturing facilities that consume a lot of resources.

The company said it will further reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and develop more sustainable technology solutions. The company pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its global operations by 2040, to increase the energy efficiency and lower the carbon footprint of Intel products and platforms with specific goals, and to work with customers and industry partners to create solutions that lower the greenhouse gas footprint of the entire technology ecosystem.

“The impact of climate change is an urgent global threat. Protecting our planet demands immediate action and fresh thinking about how the world operates,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, in a statement. ‘As one of the world’s leading semiconductor design and manufacturing companies, Intel is in a unique position to make a difference not only in our own operations, but in a way that makes it easier for customers, partners, and our whole value chain to take meaningful action too.”


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Why it matters

Intel's D1X factory in Hillsboro, Oregon.
Intel’s D1X factory in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Intel is committing to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operations, otherwise known as its Scope 1 and 2 emissions, by 2040. Intel’s priority is to actively reduce its emissions, in line with international standards and climate science. It will use credible carbon offsets to achieve its goal only if other options are exhausted.

To realize this ambitious goal, Intel has set the following interim milestones for 2030: Achieve 100% renewable electricity use across its global operations.

It will also invest approximately $300 million in energy conservation at its facilities to achieve four billion cumulative kilowatt hours of energy savings. It will build new factories and facilities to meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED program standards, including recently announced investments in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

And it will launch a cross-industry R&D initiative to identify greener chemicals with lower global warming potential and to develop new abatement equipment.

These targets strengthen Intel’s commitment to sustainable business practices, like its RISE strategy. Intel’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade are nearly 75% lower than they would have been in the absence of investments and action.

“Intel has been a leader in sustainability results for decades. We’re now raising the bar and entering an exciting
era to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2040,” said Keyvan Esfarjani, executive vice president and chief global operations officer at Intel, in a statement. “This will require significant innovation and investment, but we are committed to do what it takes and will work with the industry to achieve this critical mission.”

What it means for Intel’s emissions

Intel’s plan for sustainability.

Intel is also committed to addressing climate impacts throughout its upstream and downstream value chain, also known as Scope 3 emissions. Intel’s Scope 3 strategy focuses on partnering with suppliers and customers to take aggressive action to reduce overall emissions.

For the supply chain, Intel said is actively engaged with its suppliers to identify areas of improvement, including increasing supplier focus on energy conservation and renewable energy sourcing, increasing chemical and resource efficiencies, and leading cross-industry consortia to support the transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas semiconductor manufacturing value chain.

To accelerate progress, Intel said it is committed to partnering with suppliers to drive supply chain greenhouse gas emissions to at least 30% lower by 2030 than they would be in the absence of investment and action.

What it means for Intel’s products

To support customer sustainability goals and reduce Scope 3 product-use greenhouse gas emissions, Intel will increase the energy efficiency of its products and continue to drive performance improvements to the market demands. Intel is setting a new goal to achieve a five times increase in performance per watt for its next generation CPU-GPU, Falcon Shores.

The company remains committed to its 2030 goal to increase product energy efficiency by 10 times for client and server microprocessors. To help customers achieve platform carbon reductions, Intel is extending innovation in the layout, selection, and modularity of all internal components to reduce the size of mainboards.

It is working on continued increases in system energy efficiency and display efficiency to significantly reduce overall
power consumption. And it is focused on the use of bio-based printed circuit boards to aid in the separation of materials and components when recycling, and to reduce overall electronic waste.

Intel has also set a new goal to lower emissions related to reference platform designs for client form factors by 30% or more by 2030. These efforts are taking shape with Dell’s Concept Luna prototype device, developed in partnership with Intel to showcase future possibilities for sustainable PC design.

“Collaboration is key if we want to find solutions to the significant environmental issues the world is grappling with. Intel has been an important partner in this regard, helping us drive joint innovation supporting motherboard optimization, development of the bio-based printed circuit board and increasing system power efficiency in our Concept Luna device,” said Glen Robson, chief technology officer for the Client Solutions Group at Dell, in a statement. “The ambition behind this ongoing work is to test, prove and evaluate opportunities to roll out innovative, sustainable design ideas at scale across our portfolio – it’s the only way we will sufficiently accelerate the circular economy and protect our planet for the generations to come.”

Intel spent $3 billion on its latest expansion in Oregon.
Intel spent $3 billion on its latest expansion in Oregon.

Intel is partnering to launch liquid immersion cooling pilot deployments for data centers across cloud and communications service providers, with companies such as Submer. This includes embracing new principles, such as heat recapture and reuse via immersion cooling.

“99% of heat generated by IT equipment can be captured in the form of warm water, practically without losses and at much higher temperatures. Through partnership with Intel, Submer is able to scale a validated immersive cooling solution that saves energy while providing the ability to capture and reuse the subsequent thermal heat,” said Daniel Pope, co-founder and CEO of Submer. “This will fundamentally change the way data centers are built and operated.”

Increasing access to renewable energy is a critical step in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, the company said. Intel has developed a solution that can be integrated into existing energy grid infrastructure to create a smarter grid that can adapt to changing energy consumption needs and sources. Intel and some of the world’s largest utility
operators formed the Edge for Smart Secondary Substations Alliance to modernize energy grid substations and better support renewable energy sources. France’s largest grid operator, Enedis, recently joined to upgrade its more than 800,000 secondary substations with solutions that provide real-time control across the network.

Intel’s programmable hardware and open software also deliver capabilities that enable greener solutions for customers. For example, within its data center that houses 5G communication facilities, Japan telecommunications operator KDDI reduced overall power consumption by 20% in a trial using Intel XeonScalable processors and Intel’s comprehensive power management and AI capabilities, giving it the ability to scale power consumption according to demand.

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