By the time the year is over, Google’s whole operation will be powered entirely by renewable energy.
This includes all data centres and offices that house their 60,000 employees worldwide.
While the shift has been an idea for years, Google had no idea how it would actually achieve the ambitious long-term strategy, as the company’s head of energy policy, Michael Terrell, told CBC’s Day 6.
Google set its first goal to be carbon neutral back in 2007.
“It was a moonshot as far as we were concerned. We had no idea how we would get to the finish line and we had no idea how long it would take,” he told the media outlet.
As CBC reports, Google was actually one of the first corporations to produce long-term, large-scale contracts to buy renewable energy, the first of which was to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa.
This purchase was enough to power several of the company’s 13 massive data centres throughout the world.
The shift to a 100 per cent reliance on renewable energy this year marks a pretty significant leap; last year, Google sourced just 44 per cent of its power from wind and solar sources. According to the CBC, Terrell says that the company’s massive progress demonstrates how rapidly the renewable market is scaling around the world in addition to a changing global market.
“We focused on renewables, because that’s what’s available right now. We can go to a wind developer or a solar developer and sign a deal for a project now,” says Terrell.
He says the costs of alternative sources of energy – like wind and solar – have fallen by 60 per cent and 80 per cent respectively in the past six years.
That’s why they timing was right for the company to go on a renewable energy shopping spree, solidifying deals with 20 renewable projects around the world. This includes sites in Chile, Sweden and The Netherlands.
According to the Times, 95 percent of Google’s energy investments this year will come from wind turbines.
It’s important to note that Google won’t literally be using the renewable energy generated from producing sources’ rather, it will be paying for enough units to account for its usage in a carbon-offsetting program. Meaning, it will offset the energy consumed through its green energy purchases.
It’s a wise move; the largest portion of Google’s carbon footprint came from electricity-related emissions.
According to The New York Times, last year, Google used 5.7 terawatt-hours of electricity, which is enough to power the entire city of San Francisco.