Dec 14, 2016

Google to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy from 2017

3 min
In a landmark moment for the company and the renewable energy sector as a whole, Google will power its data centres and offices for 60,000 staff with...

In a landmark moment for the company and the renewable energy sector as a whole, Google will power its data centres and offices for 60,000 staff with 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2017.

Google is already the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable electricity with 44 percent of its power needs supplied by solar and wind farms, but the company is fixing to raise this number to 100 percent by the end of 2017.

It takes an incredible amount of energy for Google’s data centres to keep on top of trillions of Google searches each year and hundreds of hours of uploads to YouTube each minute. In order to reduce the energy used the search engine has already spent years perfecting these data centres, making them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average.

Despite these improvements, they still need a lot of energy the company became purchasing renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint.

Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure, said in an official statement: “We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future.”

To reach the 100 percent goal, Google will be directly buying enough wind and solar electricity to account for the electricity its operations consume globally. The company is focussing on creating new energy from renewable sources, so it only buys from projects that are funded by its purchases.

The opportunity to do this is down to the sharp fall in wind and solar prices over the last six years with drops of 60 and 80 percent respectively.

Hölzle said: “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.”

Google is also proud of the fact that in buying this renewable energy its supporting local land owners and developers and two-thirds of its infrastructure investments are in the US.

Sustainability is at the forefront of what Google does and it goes beyond its energy needs as Hölzle explained: “Operating our business in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from the beginning, and we’re always working on new ideas to make sustainability a reality — like enabling the building of healthy workplaces and creating a living, breathing dashboard for the planet.

“We’ve reported our carbon footprint and published information on our sustainability programs for many years in white papers, blog posts, and on our website. Now, we’ve put all this information together in a new Environmental Report.”

Take a look at Google’s new environmental website where it reports on more than just its renewable energy efforts.

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Apr 23, 2021

Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Drax is advancing biomass following Pinnacle acquisition it reported in a trading update

Drax' recently completed acquisition of Pinnacle more than doubles its sustainable biomass production capacity and significantly reduces its cost of production, it reported in a trading update.

The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.

The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).

Drax CEO Will Gardiner said its Q1 performance had been "robust", supported by the sale of Drax Generation Enterprise, which holds four CCGT power stations, to VPI Generation.

This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.

In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.

The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.

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