Google set to reach 100% renewable energy target in 2017

December 07, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Google says it is on track to meet its target of powering all its data centres and offices from renewable power by next year.

The majoirity of the renewable supply comes from wind farms, making Google the largest corporate buyer of renewable power in the world, buying directly from solar and wind farms.

"Our engineers have spent years perfecting Google's data centers, making them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average. But we still need a lot of energy to power the products and services that our users depend on," said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google. "In 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices. 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. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities."

"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. 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.  To date, our purchasing commitments will result in infrastructure investments of more than $3.5 billion globally, about two-thirds of that in the United States."

This is just the first step, he says. "In the future we may pursue dispatchable, zero-carbon generation energy options for our portfolio. These options could include purchasing energy from technologies like renewables paired with utility-scale energy storage, advanced nuclear power, geothermal energy, low-impact hydro, demand response and energy efficiency resources, or others. Some of these resources are either not mature enough for commercial deployment or not cost-effective at the scale necessary for large commercial operations," he