5 April 2018

Google now buys more renewable energy than it uses

Google has announced that it has met its goal of purchasing enough renewable energy to match the amount of power it consumes across all its global operations.

In fact, it is now flooding power grids around the world with more equivalent clean power than it uses at all its 15 data centres and multiple offices.

In a recent blog announcing the news, Google said it now has contracts to purchase 3 gigawatts (GW) from renewable projects built specifically for the company. These contracts have also amounted to $3 billion of new capital investment.

This power is largely derived from wind farms, such as the 536 megawatts it recently purchased across three Midwest American states, although it does have some solar capacity.

The practice of ‘matching’ energy use with renewable energy purchased and distributed elsewhere is now commonplace within business. Google admits that it isn’t yet possible to directly power a company of its scale using 100 percent renewables.

This is also due to the fact that any power grid supplies electricity to homes and businesses from plants available at the time, be it gas, coal, or renewable, and it cannot yet differentiate between the source.

“What’s important to us is that we are adding new clean energy sources to the electrical system, and that we’re buying that renewable energy in the same amount as what we’re consuming, globally and on an annual basis”, said Urs Hölzle, Google’s Senior Vice President, for Technical Infrastructure.

The news is seen as a first step for the company, but an important milestone towards its ultimate goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral.

“We do want to get to a point where renewables and other carbon-free energy sources actually power our operations every hour of every day. It will take a combination of technology, policy and new deal structures to get there, but we're excited for the challenge. We can’t wait to get back to work”, added Hölzle.

                           Google’s wind (blue) and solar (yellow) farms are mostly located in North America and Europe


Photo Credit: Google

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