Google Wants To Run On 100% Renewable Energy By 2017

Google has contributed $168 million into this Ivanpah solar electric generating system in the Mojave Desert. Pacific Southwest Region USFWS/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In 2011, Google chugged about 0.013 percent of the world’s energy use to fuel their data centers and office spaces. As things continue, that consumption is only going to increase, leaving behind a hefty energy bill and a grubby carbon footprint.

Next year, 100 percent of that electricity will come from renewable energy sources, Google announced in a blog post. They say they will buy up to 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind farms and solar energy to account for 100 percent of their electricity use by 2017. You can view the full “white paper” of their goals in this PDF.

Google have been creeping towards renewable energy for some time. They have already invested over $3.5 billion into renewable energy projects and are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable electricity.

This is obviously great news for the environment, but clean and green energy is merely the cherry on top of this business-guided choice.

“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,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure, explained in the post“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.”

Fingers crossed, this could be a business move that the majority of large companies decide to do in the years to come. As part of the RE100 initiative, 83 of the world’s top companies have made commitments to go 100 percent renewable, including Nike, Nestle, Microsoft, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, H&M, IKEA, and dozens of other household names. A huge amount of these multinationals hope to achieve their green dreams by 2020.

"The science tells us that tackling climate change is an urgent global priority," added Hölzle in the post. "We believe the private sector, in partnership with policy leaders, must take bold steps and that we can do so in a way that leads to growth and opportunity. And we have a responsibility to do so – to our users and the environment. We have lots of progress left to make, but these achievements we're announcing today feel like a breath of fresh air. Now, back to work."

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