Multinational technology company, Google, is reportedly stepping up its green energy endeavours. It is reported that the online giant consumed energy equivalent to the city of San Francisco in the last year. Attempts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint are already in action, and in 2017 Google would have all its energy sourced from wind farms and solar panels.
Currently, Google gets its power from a power company, operating on an energy grid, typically sourced from hydroelectric dams, natural gas, coal, and wind power. Vice President of Technical infrastructure at Google, Urs Hölzle, said that electricity costs were one of the largest components of the operating expenses. He added that having a long-term stable cost renewable power provided protection against the price swings in energy. Senior Vice President of Google, Joe Kava, restated that unlike carbon-based power the wind supply prices don’t fluctuate.
Google over the past decade has been participating in large-scale deals with renewable producers. This would guarantee creating renewable energy from the wind turbines and solar cells, and plug it into the utility grid. Kava said, “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”
Initiatives like working with large wind farms like that of the 50,000-acre facility in Minco, Oklahoma which supplies Google’s data centre in Pryor, Oklahoma are steps towards the 100% renewable energy use. Another source would be NextEra Energy which has around 115 wind farms in the United States and Canada.
Google has eight different businesses, including search engines, YouTube and Gmail, each having around one billion customers. Google consumed 5.7 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2015, which according to research fellow at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Jonathan Koomey, is enough for 140,000-person towns. This adds pressure to move towards renewable energy.
Director of operations for Google’s data centre energy and location strategy, Gary Demasi, said that there has been a significant reduction in the price of renewable. Over the last six years, the cost of wind power dropped 60% and solar power became 80% cheaper. So, the data centres using enormous amounts of energy would find the cost of solar and wind more predictable, as the natural gas and coal had fluctuating costs. Demasi said that Google would ultimately change the entire grid and move towards a zero carbon grid.