Google is one of those internet giants that consume as much energy as the entire city of San Francisco. And, why not! The whole world runs on the services of Google, be it Google Search Engine, YouTube, Gmail or Android Google Play Services!
After the Paris Climate Agreement, it has rather become indispensable and a mandate to switch to sustainable and green energy modes so as to minimise the dependence on none- renewable resources. Giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple and others have agreed to help in achieving the global climate change goals, by switching to 100% renewable and clean energy by 2020. In Australia large solar power unit suppliers like Eurosolar Group working to help Australia use renewable energy.
Google is the largest buyer of solar and wind energy for its 13+ data centres that is set across 150 cities globally. And, the demands from these data centres are sooner expected to rise by about 9% this year. For achieving the aim of 100% switch to green energy by 2017, the company would have to buy more than 6 Terawatt hours of solar and wind energy this year, to count the least. Currently, Google alone buys approximately 44% of power from all solar and wind farms and soon, this percentage is probably going to rise higher.
The Google’s target to reach the 100%, took them about 5 years, since 2012. Initially, they had to face many hurdles due to non-popularity and high prices/ power purchase agreements. However, with government initiatives, climate concerns and improve in technology and efficiency, the costs of green energy set ups have considerably come down despite the overall increase in demand for power.
Way back in 2009, Google started purchasing solar energy from the local utility. But, with time and because of a drastic increase in demand, Google began producing its own energy. It built renewable plants very close to the data centres so that there could have been minimum transmission losses (note: solar energy is only efficient within certain limits, unlike coal or hydroelectric sources). However, the biggest challenge has been that there is not enough land available near these data centres and amongst those which were installed- couldn’t meet 24X7 energy needs. In 2010, Google bought the right to purchase electricity at wholesale rates, by getting approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Since then, the cost of renewables has come down by 80% for solar energy and the process of switching over to green has become robust, rapid and very affordable for giants like Google.
Looking at the enormous cost of installing solar power generation setups, Google has already made massive investments in buying renewable energy credits and solar electricity generation units. However, due to the global promotion of these great resources, the costs of power production have been significantly falling (about 12.1% drop) since the past ten years. Credit also goes to government tax benefits and affordability in the long run for both business owners and houses. According to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar and wind energy for most of the world will be the ‘cheapest’ source of energy by 2030 (the target year for the epic Paris Agreement).
Unlike smaller firms, big companies like Google have enough resources to understand the Global Energy Markets and have the potential to negotiate and buy renewable energy at cheaper rates and put them to better and appropriate usage. Currently, Google has contracts with about 20 projects across the US, Chile and Sweden. Many renewable energy suppliers actually said that they perhaps wouldn’t able to operate without the help and finance of giants such as Google.
Not just switching to the green energy mode has become a necessity, all big and small businesses must also look for ways with which it can cut down on energy usage and increase efficiency with minimum wastage. Though the new President of the USA, Donald Trump, has vowed to revive the bankrupted none- renewable industries and will probably bring up anti- renewable policies, Google is certainly not looking forward to making any changes in its renewable energy initiatives, and thus help save the earth. Google sees the current investment not as a burden, but an asset that will pay them good returns in the long run. If Google would require more power for the next 10 years down the row, then the giant may also look forward to making agreements for low-carbon energy sources such as biomass, hydro and nuclear.
The trend of switching to green energy by Google and other big corporations will not only control on carbon emissions but will also inspire and chart a course of actions for smaller businesses, firms and even residential communities to take bold actions and help achieve faster sustainable developmental goals. If Google achieves its aim, it will become a symbol and a role model of good corporate citizenship and environmental responsibility.