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Intel, Whole Foods lead in green-power purchasing

A survey conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in conjunction with wind turbine giant Vestas Wind Systems has identified which companies procure the largest amounts of renewable energy.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance/Vestas

Chip giant Intel procured over 1,493 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy in 2010.

That's according to a survey of over 1,000 companies that was conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in conjunction with wind turbine giant Vestas Wind Systems.

The index developed from this new survey is called the Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX). (For a PDF of the white paper on the survey, click here.) For its inaugural release the CREX released rankings of companies based on the amount of renewable energy they procured both in 2009 and 2010.

For 2010, the top five companies with the largest renewable electricity procurement were: Intel, clothing retailer Kohl's, Hong Kong electric company CLP Holdings, supermarket chain Whole Foods Market, and the Dutch telecom Koninklijke KPN.

For 2009, the ranking was Deutsche Telekom, Intel, PepsiCo, BT Group, and clothing retailer Kohl's.

Keep in mind that no one is suggesting these companies are gleaning electricity directly from local solar or wind farms. While some companies do directly support renewable-energy projects, over 80 percent of the renewable electricity procured by the companies surveyed was purchased in the form of renewable electricity credits (RECs).

And while Intel procured the most renewable electricity in 2010 at over 1,493 gigawatt-hours, on a percentage basis it's actually Kohl's that wins. In 2010 the retailer purchased so many RECs, it statistically can say it garnered 100.4 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

In conjunction with the CREX, Vestas also had TNS/Gallup conduct a survey on wind energy procurement in particular.

When it comes to wind, Whole Foods tops the list. The supermarket chain gets 100 percent of its electricity from wind energy, followed by North American bank Toronto-Dominion Bank at 78 percent, and software giant Adobe Systems at 65 percent, according to the Global Consumer Wind Study 2011.

More statistics and rankings of companies by industry can be found in Appendix D (page 30) of the CREX white paper (PDF) released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Vestas.

"Vestas and Bloomberg both believe that once provided with transparency, consumers, corporations and policy-makers will make better decisions. The data shows that informed consumers are likely to drive the adoption of renewable energy sources by the corporations that sell products and services," according to the white paper.

It's clear why Vestas would be interested in collecting such data and commissioning such a study.

The wind turbine giant has proposed a WindMade label be applied to U.S. consumer services and goods to promote the use of wind energy similarly to how the Fairtrade seal now commonly found on coffee promotes fair working conditions and wages. While the exact standard to be met for the WindMade seal of approval is still under development, it would essentially be an identifier for goods or services that used a minimum amount of wind energy in the production of their product.