All data centres and offices of Google will be powered by renewable energy from 2017, the company has said. This means that Google will buy solar and wind energy equal to the electricity that its operations will consume on an annual basis.
Tech firms all over the world account for around 2% of greenhouse gas emission, reported The Guardian. “Our founders are convinced climate change is a real, immediate threat, so we have to do our part,” said Marc Oman, EU energy lead at the internet giant.
In 2012, Google had set the target of using 100% renewable energy. Last year, it bought 44% of its power from wind and solar farms. Oman said it took Google five years to achieve the target because of the “complexity” of the agreements. “It’s complicated, it’s not for everyone: smaller companies will struggle with the documents. We are buying power in a lot of different jurisdictions, so you can’t just copy and paste agreements.”
Regarding the cost of renewable energy, Urs Holzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure, told BBC, “Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60% and 80% respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option. Apart from being cost effective, using renewable energy also means Google will save a lot of money in the form of tax incentives, reported BBC. Various governments offer tax incentives to companies for investing in clean energy.
The company may also sign 10-year agreements for low-carbon power such as hydro and biomass. The company is also considering investing in nuclear power in the future. “We don’t want to rule out signing a nuclear contract if it meets our goals of low price and safety... but today we can’t positively say there are nuclear projects out there that meet these criteria,” Oman told The Guardian.