SAP Case Study

Greening the energy footprint with GoldPower

Objective: CO 2 is a core sustainability metric for SAP. Electricity use represents a substantial proportion (25%) of SAP's global CO2 emissions. Furthermore, cloud solutions with their energy-intensive data centres represent a major growth opportunity for SAP, where the use of green energy can be leveraged as a powerful differentiator for attracting and retaining customers, employees and investors. In 2009 the company announced that by 2020 it wants to reduce its carbon footprint to its year 2000 level. SAP has a three-pronged global climate strategy that is displayed in the following figure.

SAP is a global multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, the company operates regional offices and data centres all over the globe. With annual revenues of 16.8 billion Euros and over 66,000 employees, SAP is one of the largest software companies in the world. SAP's vision is to help the world run better and improve people's lives. Innovation and sustainability are at the core of its philosophy.

What is the context?

The global cloud computing business continues to grow at astonishing rates. The IT sector is responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Over the last few years, SAP has expanded rapidly. For the period 2011–2013, total energy consumption declined thanks to significant efficiency gains. More recently however, the sheer scale of the company's growth has led to increased electricity use and CO 2 emissions.

What was the challenge?

CO 2 is a core sustainability metric for SAP. Electricity use represents a substantial proportion (25%) of SAP's global CO2 emissions. Furthermore, cloud solutions with their energy-intensive data centres represent a major growth opportunity for SAP, where the use of green energy can be leveraged as a powerful differentiator for attracting and retaining customers, employees and investors. In 2009 the company announced that by 2020 it wants to reduce its carbon footprint to its year 2000 level. SAP has a three-pronged global climate strategy that is displayed in the following figure.

Given the significance of electricity consumption, both operationally and commercially, the company decided to look for a way to power its operations worldwide with 100% renewable electricity, starting in 2014.

How did SAP proceed?

Having established this strategic goal, the company conducted a screening of available market alternatives. Different solutions were identified and compared with respect to their fit with SAP's strategic priorities.

What solution did SAP choose?

The company decided to go for high quality renewable energy certificates (REC) as their option of choice. SAP defined their internal selection criteria for securing high quality and opted for buying South Pole's GoldPower, a premium renewable energy certificate.

Why did SAP select RECs?

Developing proprietary sources of renewable energy would require significant amounts of investment. The production of renewable energy is not part of SAP's core business and even with major investment it would not meet the company's global energy demand. Furthermore, SAP did not want to compete with power utilities, since many of them are SAP clients.


RECs on the other hand provide a convenient, readily available and cost- effective solution, which guarantees the production of an amount of renewable energy equivalent to the amount of energy consumed by the buyer. The matching of these two amounts independent of the locations of energy production and consumption is one of the key strengths of RECs.

What convinced SAP to buy GoldPower?

SAP is a global company with operations in a host of different locations. GoldPower is a globally applicable product, which provides access to high-quality renewable energy, even in markets where no other comparable product is available.

GoldPower combines the general advantages of RECs with additional benefits, persuading SAP to select it as their high quality renewable electricity solution.

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