Internet giant Google has announced it is poised to power 100% of its global operations with renewable energy in 2017.
According to a company blog from Urs Holzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure, Google, touting itself as “the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power,” says it currently purchases 2.6 GW of wind and solar power globally. In 2015 alone, the company contracted for a total of 842 MW of renewables.
Google signed its first renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) back in 2010 for the capacity from a 114 MW wind project in Iowa, and the company says it has inked a total of 20 PPAs to date. Google also became a member of RE100, an initiative of corporations pledging commitments to 100% renewable energy, in 2015.
Now, in order to reach 100% renewables next year, the company says it plans to purchase even more wind and solar – enough to cover “every unit of electricity [its] operations consume globally.” This includes both corporate offices and data centers, the company notes.
“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest-cost option,” the blog says. “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.”
The company notes in the blog that its 100% renewables milestone will not be the last step toward growing its clean energy initiatives.
“As we look to the immediate future, we’ll continue to pursue these direct contracts as we grow, with an even greater focus on regional renewable energy purchases in places where we have data centers and significant operations,” the blog says. “Since the wind doesn’t blow 24 hours a day, we’ll also broaden our purchases to a variety of energy sources that can enable renewable power, every hour of every day. Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone – not just Google – has access to clean energy.”
In a statement praising Google’s announcement, Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, says that “leadership from major corporations like Google plays a critical role in the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
“By transitioning global operations to run entirely on renewable energy, Google is charting a course for other corporations, institutions, cities and communities to take bold action that will create jobs, save money and protect families from dangerous fossil fuel pollution,” Van Horn adds.
Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, says in a separate statement, “Google’s achievement is further evidence of the continuing momentum of America’s clean energy transition. Companies like Google are investing billions of dollars in clean energy and efficiency because it makes sound business sense.”
A white paper on Google’s renewable energy plans can be found here.