Google has announced that it will reach 100% renewable energy in its global operations including data centers and offices in 2017.
This was first announced by Urs Holzle, Senior Vice President Technical Infrastructure in a blog post. He revealed that Google was the first corporation to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly.
Every year people search on Google trillions of times; every minute people upload more than 400 hours of YouTube videos, which requires an incredible amount of processing power.
Google has spent years to perfect data centers and make them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average.
This still requires a lot of energy to power the products and services, so it began purchasing renewable energy to reduce carbon footprint and address climate change, and also since it made business sense.
Google signed the first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa in 2010. Today, it is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy.
Google will be directly buying wind and solar electricity annually to reach the goal and account for every unit of electricity consumed globally, and is focusing on creating new energy from renewable sources.
Holzle said that the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent respectively over the last six years, which proves that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option.
“Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy,” he said.
Goggle has purchased commitments worth more than $3.5 billion globally, about two-thirds of that in the United States. This generates tens of millions of dollars per year in revenue to local property owners, and to local and national governments in tax revenue.
Holzle said that it is on track to match the global energy consumption on an annual basis by next year. It will continue to pursue direct contracts, with greater focus on regional renewable energy purchases in places where it has data centers and significant operations.
Google will also broaden purchases to a variety of energy sources that can enable renewable power. The ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone, not just Google, has access to clean energy.
Google said that it has always operated in an environmentally sustainable way, and works on new ideas such as building health workplaces and creating a breathing dashboard for the planet.
It has also published its carbon footprint and information on sustainability programs for many years in white papers, blog posts and its website.
These sustainability initiatives were started passionate Googlers, and have now grown into company-wide efforts, which included solar panels on roofs to the bike-to-work program which help reduce impact environmental impact.