04 November 2004 | Cara Whitehouse
BT has strengthened its corporate responsibility credentials with new contracts to use electricity produced by renewable or low-carbon sources.
The deal, which according to the Climate Change group represents the world's largest ever for green energy, has been struck with npower and British Gas.
It came into effect on 1 October and is said to be worth several hundred million pounds. Angus Berry, senior energy manager, said the deal was "driving green energy mainstream". The contracts are currently set at three years, but could be extended depending on supplier performance, he said.
BT offices, depots and its 6,500 telephone exchanges will now be powered by environmentally friendly electricity, reducing the company's carbon dioxide emissions by more than 325,000 tonnes a year. This represents an 80 per cent decrease in emissions since 1991.
The amount of electricity supplied by renewable sources such as wind generation and solar schemes will be increased from 47 to 1,000 gigawatt hours, according to Chris Tuppen, head of sustainable development and corporate accountability at BT.
Another 1,100 gigawatt hours of low carbon fuel-efficient energy will be supplied from combined heat and power sources with a lower environmental impact than fossil fuels.
BT's green energy initiative has been applauded by the prime minister and the Climate Change group.
But Ian Dobson, chairman of the CIPS energy committee, said it was "difficult to prove" exactly how green the electricity was.
He also expressed surprise that, in a market where demand is greater than supply, BT had managed to find such a large amount of green electricity.