A Greener Google

Google May Power More Sustainable Energy Advancements

Google will reach their “landmark moment” in 2017 by purchasing 100% of power for their data centres and offices through renewable energy sources. Increasing from their 44% purchases last year, they now represent the leading corporation for renewable energy usage. Google’s power dependency is growing as they too expand, meaning this step in renewable energy consumption is an important advancement.

Google data centres are the main offenders for high power requirements, and these stretch over 4 continents, meaning a vast amount of energy is demanded by Google. In 2015 alone, 5.7 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable electricity was bought. Google is forced to purchase their power from many different jurisdictions, the majority coming from US windfarms. They wish to incorporate contracts to include as many forms of renewable energy as possible such as solar, hydro, wind, sustainable biofuels, and even nuclear if a project that satisfies their safety requirements is found. Purchasing agreements of this magnitude and diversity are difficult, however, and is the reason Google didn’t reach their initial target for renewable energy independence in 2012.

Company executives assure this energy progression is not “greenwashing” as an effort of self-promotion, instead simply a sensible business step. Even though the founders of Google believe climate change is an imminent threat, it was the cost effectiveness which fuelled their green energy progression. It may be disheartening to hear that this positive step was conceived as a means to save money rather than intended environmental activism. However, it’s also realistic. Companies are out to make money, and if environmentally friendly practises are not economically reliable then they just are not going to be used. Therefore, it is certainly promising to see the greener option is now regarded as the cheaper, as well as the more socially preferred one. Perhaps this shall persuade other companies to follow suit? And seeing that tech companies currently account for 2% of global greenhouse emissions, that would surely be a welcomed advancement in environmental sustainability.

[Michaela Barton]

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