Google aims to run on only renewable energy by 2017

Google now claims the title of world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy sources.

The company has announced that in 2017 it will reach 100 percent renewable energy for its global operations. Google made the announcement in a blog post written by the senior vice president of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle. 

The post went on to explain that Google’s data centres are 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average. Google is currently the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments apparently reaching 2.6 gigawatts of wind and solar energy. The company intends to reach its goal of completely renewable energy by purchasing enough wind and solar electricity to account for every unit of electricity Google’s operations consume.

“I’m thrilled to announce that in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices,” writes Hölzle in the post.

“We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010.”

Renewable Energy is the economical choice

However, Google’s intention to continue down the path of renewable energy isn’t purely a moral one. Renewable energy is quickly becoming one of the least expensive sources of energy in the world, evidenced by the past six years, during which time renewable energy costs came down 60 percent and 80 percent.

As Google bolsters its data centres with cloud service support, it makes fiscal sense for the web giant to invest in renewable energy in the longterm.

In addition to this announcement, Google also released its first comprehensive environmental report detailing its efforts to minimize the company’s impact on the environment. Included in the report, the Mountain View giant identified several key areas of improvement that the company is currently focusing on.

These include curbing Google’s energy consumption, helping people conserve energy using the Google Cloud, advocating for electrical grids worldwide, studying water preservation, and changing the way we think about waste.

This means that in addition to reaching a goal of running on renewable energy by 2017, Google will attempt to reduce IT energy use by up to 87 percent, invest heavily in solar and wind projects, use water efficiently in their data centres and will strive to divert entirely from landfills within its own data centres.

“We’re helping people measure the planet with Google tools so that anyone can see the world change over recent decades, watching as cities grow, forests disappear, glaciers recede, and lakes dry up. We’re also working with research and nonprofit organizations all over the world to monitor the Earth’s vital signs,” reads Google’s report.

What can we do right now?

In addition to a plethora of recent sustainability announcements, Google has also launched a website that aims to track its environmental development. Several posts have already been published, including Google’s environmental report.

Other companies have declared similar environmental ambitions, such as Apple, which became a member of the RE100 global initiative this past September. Google is already a member of this organization, which aligns companies through the goal of running on 100 percent renewable energy.

Apple has claimed an optimistic 93 percent renewable energy rate, and also stated that its operations in the U.S., China and 21 other countries have surpassed that milestone.

Google concluded its blog post by stating that maintaining the environment is a global priority, one that requires the private sector to take action.

We have lots of progress left to make, but these achievements we’re announcing today feel like a breath of fresh air,”

Until that fateful day in 2017 however, it seems it’s business as usual down in Mountain View, California

Just as Hölzle’s concluded, “Now, back to work.”  

Read Google’s environmental report here.