The latest science has been telling the world that tackling climate change is an urgent global priority of today. In order to reduce the company’s environment impact as well as improve the bottom line, the internet giant Google has just announced its commitment to reducing its footprint to zero in 2017.
In fact, the company has been carbon neutral since 2007. And according to a new data made from a Bloomberg report, nearly 26 percent of the company’s total capacity is built by the 350 top-ranked purchasers of renewable energy. With commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts of wind and solar energy, Google nowadays becomes the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy on the planet.
Honestly speaking, reaching 100% renewable energy is an aggressive goal, which seems impossible to turn into reality with only one measure. It explains why Google pursues a multi-pronged approach: combining efficiency, carbon offsets with the purchase and use of carbon-free renewable electricity. Here are three plans Google has settled on for the ultimate goal:
· Buy electricity from a renewable project developer directly in the form of a power purchase agreement, or PPA.
· Sell the power right back into the grid at the local, wholesale price. In the process of selling, Google strips renewable energy credits (RECs) and keeps them so that no one else can claim credit for the green aspect of its purchase.
· Apply the RECs to the energy used at its data centers.
What’s the driving force of Google’s commitment to going all in on renewable energy? Maybe the most possible explanation is: low-cost. The cost of wind and solar in the past years has respectively reduced by 60% and 80%, proving that renewable potentially is the lowest cost option. Meanwhile in Google’s data centers, electricity costs take the biggest part of its operating expenses, and having a long-term cost of stable renewable power will undoubtedly provide Google with protection against price wings.
As with Google’s investment in over 20 renewable energy projects, many communities from Rutherford County, NC, Grady County, OK, the Alacama Region of Chile, to municipalities in Sweden can gain support from Google. It is said that the purchasing commitments of Google will lead to more than $3.5 billion infrastructure investments globally, helping local property owners receive tens of millions of dollars each year, and bringing local and national governments with tens of millions tax revenues.
However, meeting the commitment of running entirely on renewable energy in 2017 is just the beginning of Google’s ambitions to make clean energy accessible to the whole world. Besides continuing to pursue the existing direct contracts, Google will pay more attention to regional renewable energy purchase in places where its data centers are located and where it has significant operations. Considering the wind is unlikely to blow around the clock, the company will also broaden the types of energy source to enable renewable power 24 hours a day.
From the view of industry, Google is not the only one tech giant that is in working toward achieving 100% renewable energy usage, however. Just in September, Apple and Microsoft have successively announced their green power plans. Just as what Google promised, Apply will run all of its data centers as well as corporate offices on renewable energy, while Microsoft determines to power its data centers around the world using 50% renewable energy by 2018, and using 60% by the early 2020s. At all events it will be a big step forward for web hosting participants, and we look forward to benefit from a green internet world in the near future.