Google Aims To Go Carbon Free By 2030

Global Tech Giant Google Sets 2030 Target To Get 100% Carbon Free Electricity 24x7 For Operational Use; Commits To Enable 5 GW New Carbon-Free Energy Across Key Manufacturing Regions
09:08 PM (Beijing Time) - 15. September 2020

Having achieved its 100% renewables target to match its global annual electricity use in 2017, Google has now set itself a target to source 100% carbon free power for operational use of its data centers and offices, globally by 2030. (Source: Google)

Key Takeaways

  • Google has committed to a 100% carbon free energy goal setting its eyes on 2030 to achieve it
  • It will make efforts to enable 5 GW of new carbon-free energy across its key manufacturing regions by 2030, to spur over $5 billion in clean energy investments
  • Along with clean energy sources as solar and wind, the company will also explore power sourcing from emerging tools as advanced nuclear, enhanced geothermal, green hydrogen, long-duration storage or carbon capture and storage technologies
  • It has announced a €10 billion Impact Challenge in Europe to back promising ideas that support sustainability

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has announced his company aims to get 100% carbon free power for all of its data centers and campuses around the world by 2030. This comes after the company announced achieving its 100% renewable energy target to match its global, annual electricity use with wind and solar power purchases in 2017.

Yet, its facilities still run on carbon-based power in some places and times when solar and wind energy isn’t available, because of which it now wants to match its operational electricity use with nearby carbon-free energy sources 24×7. Pichai calls it the company’s ‘biggest sustainability moonshot’ yet but with ‘enormous practical and technical complexity’.

For renewable energy enthusiasts what stands out in this scheme of things is Google’s commitment to enable 5 GW of new carbon-free energy across its key manufacturing regions by 2030 through investment. “We expect this to spur more than $5 billion in clean energy investments, avoid the amount of emissions equal to taking more than 1 million cars off the road each year, and create more than 8,000 clean energy jobs,” it added.

In October 2019, Google said it will invest $150 million in renewable energy projects in key manufacturing regions to generate clean power equivalent to the  amount of electricity needed to manufacture its consumer hardware products (see Google Commits $150Mn For RE In Manufacturing Zones).

At the same time, it is launching a €10 million ($12 million) Impact Challenge in Europe to support promising ideas and projects to support sustainability and which will be selected by independent experts.

In order to become the ‘first major company’ to achieve this aim, Google targets to:

  • Advance new approaches to buying clean energy: For instance, it is collaborating with NV Energy in Nevada to create ‘one of the largest ever’ solar & storage projects where Google will purchase battery capacity but the utility will share use of the battery (see Nevada Utility & Google Explore Solar+Storage Deal).
  • Drive progress in next-generation technologies: Along with renewables, it will explore opportunities to source power from emerging tools as advanced nuclear, enhanced geothermal, green hydrogen, long-duration storage or carbon capture and storage technologies.
  • Work with partners to advocate smart public policy: It will work with partners across sectors to advocate for government action that supports carbon-free technology development and deployment, advances smarter energy markets and empowers energy consumers.

“Reaching our goal will require a systemic approach. We’ll need to transform Google’s operations, and also help accelerate a just transition to clean energy across entire grids where we operate,” explained Google in a white paper the company has prepared on the subject. “We’ll need to accelerate development of new technologies, invent new approaches to transacting for clean energy, and advocate for smart policy. Above all, we’ll need to work with others. Google will only be able to reach 24/7 carbon-free energy in partnership with governments and industry, our customers, and the communities in which we operate.”

Even though the details of how the target will be achieved are sketchy, praise for Google’s commitment has come from many, including Greenpeace, which believes that the decision to become the first major tech firm to commit to power its data centers with carbon free energy, Google is setting a ‘new high-bar for the sector’ and a ‘break-up with fossil fuels altogether’.

“Tech companies were some of the first to set renewable energy goals, and even still, their energy-hungry data centers continued to use huge amounts of fossil fuels, prolonging our collective reliance on dirty energy any time we use the internet,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Corporate Campaigner Elizabeth Jardim and called out to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to take note. “We hope Google will follow through on its promise in May to wind down its artificial intelligence solutions for upstream oil and gas exploration and extend this commitment to any tools that boost fossil fuel production. The next decade is the one that counts in our fight to stave off the climate crisis, Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud company, should take note and accelerate the timeline and ambition of its own Climate Pledge.”

In September 2019, Google made its largest renewable energy purchase ever with 1.6 GW solar and wind power (see Google Signs Up For 1.6 GW Solar & Wind Power).

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani