Dell Technology’s Path to Reducing Energy Intensity and Carbon Emissions


by | Jun 3, 2022

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Pixababy Dell Technologies is in the business of selling personal computers and printers — built by other manufacturers. But today, it is an information technology company. It focuses on cloud-based services. According to, Dell will increasingly leverage its PC, server, and storage infrastructure to edge computing, 5G, and work-from-anywhere. It adds that software will be critical, but its energies will go toward automating maintenance and operations in the data center.

At the heart of Dell’s corporate mission is a “Legacy of Good.” To that end, it aims to conform to science-based carbon targets — ones that are in line with the Paris climate agreement to keep temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial temperatures. 

It set this goal in 2013. It committed to reducing emissions from assets it owned and controlled by 40% by 2020 from a 2010 baseline. It also sought to cut indirect emissions from the energy it purchased by the same amount. And lastly, it promised to cut its energy intensity by 80% by 2020 from a 2012 baseline. 

“Through our Legacy of Good plan, we’ve contributed to the science of outcome measurement through the solution and methodology studies, worked with industry partners to advance the global dialogue on and action around Net Positive, and entered new sustainability frontiers at Dell that are shifting our culture toward a focus on restoration and regeneration,” said Pflueger. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and energized by the work ahead.”

What Happened? 

The 2020 goals are alive and well and have been adopted across its supply chain. According to We Mean Business, they extend to supplier engagement, operational emissions, renewable energy, and product energy intensity.  

— By 2020, Dell’s suppliers were expected to join the cause and set specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and report on their emissions inventory; 

— By 2020, the company said it would cut operational emissions and emissions associated with energy purchases by 40%. It hit 29% in 2017; 

— to get there, it sought to buy 50% of its electricity using renewable energy — either deploying onsite generation or power purchase agreements. It hit 29% in 2017, and

— reduced product energy intensity by 80%. It hit 60% in 2017. 

“While this is slightly off the pace we need to hit in order to achieve our goal, our progress to date demonstrates significant reductions in energy intensity with all product types moving aggressively in the right direction,” Dell said in its White Paper. It says that ‘monitors’ are responsible for 20% of its energy footprint.

What else?

— Dell uses battery-powered drones to monitor crops in Florida. They have replaced gasoline-powered helicopters, 

— Dell has developed a product to monitor traffic patterns. It is used mainly in China, allowing drivers to avoid traffic and prevent pollution tied to travel; 

— 90% of Dell’s products qualify for “Energy Star” standards. That means they are more energy-efficient, and

— In 2019, Dell began providing supercomputing services to the National Science Foundation and Texas Advanced Computing Center. That will help researchers to study critical global issues like climate change. 

Over the last four years, for example, we have saved our customers an average of $470 million per year in expected lifetime energy costs,” Dell said in its White Paper. “Through our goal, we have learned much about our products and the relationship between industry trends and energy intensity.” 

The key areas it is watching are the energy intensity tied to monitors and the smaller form factors on overall energy intensity. It is continuing its transition to a solid-state drive in enterprise services and storage systems. And it says it needs to do a better job of communicating how Dell measures its energy intensity and that of its suppliers. 

What’s Next?

For Dell and others to get to net-zero, they need to procure more renewable energy, and they need access to a modern electric grid that can move those resources. As more electric vehicles hit the road, the challenges will come. 

“In the near future, however, with a modernized grid served by smart, responsive technology, sustainable energy will be that much closer to delivering against the government, society, and corporate net-zero targets,” writes Hayley Tabor, Vice-President Global Industries, and David Holmes, Chief Technology Officer, Energy at Dell Technologies. “Rather than overwhelming the grid, both energy consumers and producers will digitally collaborate.” 

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