Salesforce Commits to C&I Energy Transition with Solar, Carbon Removal, VPPA

Salesforce is committing tens of millions of dollars to a variety of new and long-term renewable contracts in carbon capture, renewable energy power purchase and grants for nonprofits to acquire clean energy connections, the cloud-based workplace automation company announced Tuesday.

The three climate investments are part of Salesforce’s commitment to reach 100% renewable energy in electricity equivalents and credits.

“To tackle the climate crisis head on, companies must develop a comprehensive climate transition plan,” Suzanne DiBianca, executive vice president and chief impact officer at Salesforce, said in a statement. “For us, this means investing in and scaling new climate technologies, securing clean energy access in underserved regions of the world, and aligning our corporate philanthropy strategy to ensure no one is left behind.”

The company is contracting with Qualitas Energy to add 27 MW of solar power in Italy. This virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) is Salesforce’s first such deal in Europe. Customers of VPPA’s do not necessarily receive any of the generated renewable energy directly, but the investment does help scale up production and also offsets the company’s own consumption.

VPPAs are negotiated often in the U.S. but relatively rare in Europe.

The Italian solar projects are expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 4,200 homes and save more than 21,500 metric tons of carbon emissions.

Salesforce also announced a $25 million commitment to the Frontier coalition of companies allocating $1 billion to spend on permanent carbon removal and storage projects. Frontier was founded by Stripe, Google parent Alphabet, Shopify, McKinsey and many other companies.

Frontier will facilitate $25 million in carbon removal solutions on behalf of Salesforce. The projects will focus on solutions which can store carbon for more than 1,000 years, according to reports.

Salesforce also will grant $3.95 million to numerous nonprofits which are working to make clean energy affordable and equitable for underrepresented communities. The grantees include RE-volv, Groundswell, GRID Alternatives, Planted Reimagined, Working Power, Honnold Foundation and Evergreen Climate Innovations.

The Honnold Foundation, for instance, has worked on helping develop solar projects for communities in Louisiana and Puerto Rico, among others. Foundation’s Adjuntas Microgrid project in Puerto Rico was winner of the Highest Recognition in the 2023 Greater Good Awards sponsored by Microgrid Knowledge.

Last year, Salesforce announced plans to acquire 280,000 MWh of renewable energy to be deployed across parts of South America, Asia and Africa. The focus was on investing in emerging economies. 

About the Author

Rod Walton, EnergyTech Managing Editor | Senior Editor

For EnergyTech editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

Rod Walton has spent 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. He formerly was energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World. Later, he spent six years covering the electricity power sector for Pennwell and Clarion Events. He joined Endeavor and EnergyTech in November 2021.

Walton earned his Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. His career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World. 

EnergyTech is focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

He was named Managing Editor for Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech starting July 1, 2023

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.