Google reaches its goal of matching 100 percent of its energy consumption with renewables

Published on April 09, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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Google recently announced that it met its goal of purchasing enough renewable energy in 2017 to match 100 percent of its energy consumption.

“We just completed the accounting for Google’s 2017 energy use and it’s official—we met our goal,” Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure at Google, wrote in blog post. “Google’s total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by our operations around the world, including offices and data centers.”

The company has contracts, it said, to purchase three gigawatts (GW) of output from renewable energy projects, making it the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. For comparison, Amazon and Microsoft each purchase a little over one GW of renewable power.

Google’s renewable energy contracts have led to over $3 billion in new capital investment. The company currently has 26 renewable energy projects in operations and more in its pipeline.

Hölzle clarified that the company matched its energy usage, rather than directly powering all of its operations with renewable energy.

“It’s true that for every kilowatt-hour of energy we consume, we add a matching kilowatt-hour of renewable energy to a power grid somewhere,” Hölzle said. “But that renewable energy may be produced in a different place, or at a different time, from where we’re running our data centers and offices. What’s important to us is that we are adding new clean energy sources to the electrical system, and that we’re buying that renewable energy in the same amount as what we’re consuming, globally and on an annual basis.”

Hölzle noted that the company wants to one day power all of its actual operations with renewables and clean energy. He also said that the market must continue to evolve to support smaller buyers in addition to large companies like Google.