Alibaba joins Meta, Microsoft to share low-carbon technology patents on Earth Day

  • Alibaba will join the Low Carbon Patent Pledge (LCPP) and make its main patents on green data centre technology available for free
  • The nine patents include a unique cooling system Alibaba Cloud has deployed at its data centres, which has led to energy savings of more than 70 per cent

Alibaba Group Holding has joined a platform founded by Microsoft and Meta on which it will share its key patents on low-carbon technologies, in a move aimed at fostering international innovation and accelerating the adoption of green technologies, the company announced on Friday.

Alibaba said it will join the Low Carbon Patent Pledge (LCPP), a platform that encourages the sharing of patents for low-carbon technologies, and make its nine main patents on green data centre technology available for free to external parties on Friday, which is designated as Earth Day 2022.

It is the first time Alibaba, which owns the Post, has made its critical intellectual property on sustainability broadly available.

“We believe technology innovation is a key driver in transitioning to the low-carbon circular economy of the future,” said Chen Long, vice-president of Alibaba Group and chairman of Alibaba’s Sustainability Steering Committee.

“We are committed to taking broader social responsibility to use technology to level the playing field and to empower the wider social groups, creating long-term value.”

The nine patents offered by Alibaba include a unique cooling system Alibaba Cloud has deployed at its data centres since 2015, which has led to energy savings of more than 70 per cent.

The Hangzhou-headquartered company said by joining the LCPP it hoped to encourage open collaboration, joint innovation and mutual inspiration to build a sustainable and inclusive future for society and the environment.

Tech companies globally are ramping up their efforts to reduce emissions and develop low-carbon innovations. The latest report published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this month warns that the world has to take immediate and radical action to tackle climate change, and it is a matter of “now or never” to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century.

Data centres and data transmission networks, seen as the digital infrastructure crucial for tech companies’ operations, have become a big problem in terms of emissions.

Data centres globally consumed 200 to 250 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2020, roughly 1 per cent of global electricity demand, according to the International Energy Agency. They contributed 0.3 per cent of all global carbon dioxide emissions in the same year. Cryptocurrency mining, which relies heavily on data centres, separately consumed 100 TWh.

To support China’s goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 and peak emissions by 2030, internet giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu said they will aim to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

Overseas tech giants have made more ambitious pledges. Meta, Apple, and Google’s owner Alphabet reached net-zero emissions in their operations before 2020 and set new goals of reaching net-zero emissions across their entire value chain by 2030.

Today Meta has over 8 gigawatts of new renewable energy under contract in the US, Europe and Asia, according to Gavin Chua, head of infrastructure engagement for Asia-Pacific at Meta.

Microsoft announced it will aim to be carbon-negative by 2030. By 2050, it aims to remove from the environment all the carbon it has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

Microsoft, Meta, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise launched the LCPP initiative on Earth Day last year. Coming amid warnings from the global scientific community that breakthrough technologies will be vital to cutting emissions fast enough to avert climate disaster, the initiative set the mission of promoting low-carbon technologies and fostering collaborative innovation.

Powered by advanced artificial intelligence, emerging technologies can play a pivotal role in the global effort against climate change, helping the world decarbonise energy production, boosting the efficiency of industrial systems, and reducing the carbon footprints of everyday life, said Mike Schroepfer, a senior fellow at Meta.

Separately, corporate aeroplane operator Sino Jet, owned by a private equity firm managed by Tsinghua Holdings Capital – part of Beijing’s Tsinghua University – operated a “carbon neutral” flight from France to Shanghai on Earth Day.

The flight’s 59 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions was offset by various emission reduction measures, CAAC News – the mouthpiece of China’s aviation regulator – reported on Friday.

Authors: Yujie Xue, Eric Ng, SCMP

You might also like