Google’s Strongest Commitment Yet on Renewable Energy

Google today announced their strongest commitment to the environment and renewable energy with the purchase of 842 megawatts of power, the largest purchase ever by a non-utility company.  The purchase, a combination of wind and solar sourced energy, will power the companies data centers and goes towards their goal of having all of their energy use as a company come from renewable resources.

Purchases and commitments like this are not new for Google.  They have been using & promoting renewable energy sources since they opened up their first company owned data center in 2006.  With the purchase the company made today, they now have 2 gigawatts of energy from renewable resources.  As they put it, that is the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road.

Google Renewable Energy Plans are Long Term

The purchases made by the company are not for the immediate future but the long term future of the company.

These long-term contracts range from 10-20 years and provide projects with the financial certainty and scale necessary to build these wind and solar facilities—thus bringing new renewable energy onto the grid in these regions. For our part, these contracts not only help minimize the environmental impact of our services—they also make good business sense by ensuring good prices.

These multi-decade commitments mean that Google will continue to drive down their carbon footprint and environmental impact long after some of us reading this are gone.

Since we opened our very first owned data center in 2006, we’ve been working to promote renewable and sustainable energy use in several ways:

  • First, we’re building the world’s most efficient computer infrastructure by designing our data centers to use as little energy as possible.
  • Second, we’re driving the renewables industry forward by fully committing to renewable sources. In 2010, we entered our first large-scale renewable power purchase agreement with a wind farm in Iowa, and we subsequently completed a number of similar large-scale energy purchases over the past five years. Today’s announcement is another milestone in this area.
  • Third, we’ve worked with our utility partners to help promote transformation in the utility sector. In 2013 we created a new program that enables customers like Google to buy large amounts of renewable energy directly from their utilities. Today’s announcement includes the first solar project enrolled under that program. And this past summer we announced that our newest data center will be on located on the site of a retiring coal plant and will be 100% renewable powered from day one.
  • Fourth, beyond our efforts to power our own operations with renewables, we’ve made separate agreements to fund $2.5 billion into 22 large-scale renewable energy projects over the last five years, from Germany to Kansas to Kenya. These investments have been in some of the largest and most transformative renewable energy projects in the world with a goal to help drive renewable energy development not only as a customer but as an investor, and bring down costs for everyone.

And we’re also working on new technologies and ideas—ranging from Project Sunroof to Makani Power to air quality monitoring—that we hope can make a cleaner energy future an option for many more people.

I for one am glad to see Google make such big commitments to renewable energy and I hope that it has other big names in the industry thinking the same.