Google to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy from 2017
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.
HyNet North West and InterGen to build Zero Carbon plant
Expected to begin in the mid-2020s, the partnership could reduce the CO2 emissions from the Runcorn power station by over 150,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road every year.
Situated across one of the UK’s largest industrial areas which supports the highest number of manufacturing jobs of any UK region, HyNet North West will bring clean growth to safeguard jobs, and create thousands of new employment opportunities.
Following a commitment of £72 million in funding, HyNet North West will transform the North West into the world’s first low carbon industrial cluster, playing a critical role in the UK’s transition to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the global fight against climate change.
HyNet North West will begin decarbonising the North West and North Wales region from 2025, replacing fossil fuels currently used for electricity generation, industry, heating homes and transportation with clean hydrogen. The project will also capture and lock up carbon which is currently emitted into the atmosphere.
It anticipates that by 2028, Rocksavage will have enough hydrogen produced by HyNet to move towards a 100% net zero power generation power station as the Gas Turbine technology becomes available.
InterGen’s Rocksavage Plant Manager Dan Fosberg said Rocksavage has been safely generating energy to power the north west for nearly 25 years, but in order to meet the UK’s net zero targets, traditional generation needs to adapt.
"HyNet North West will allow us to pivot our operations as we transition to a low-carbon world. The proximity of the Rocksavage Power Plant to the HyNet North West hydrogen network provides us with an exciting and unique opportunity," he said.
As soon as the first stage of the hydrogen network is available at Runcorn, InterGen intends to modify the existing generating plant to consume a blend of hydrogen with natural gas and start to reduce our emissions.
The HyNet North West project milestones mean that Rocksavage could be the first plant in the UK to blend Hydrogen with natural gas, a step forward for the industry in the target for net-zero. Once the gas turbine technology becomes available, it will explore options with HyNet North West to create a zero emissions power station using 100% hydrogen.
The project will play a big part in supporting Liverpool City Region in its commitment to reach zero carbon by 2040 and accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Putting the Liverpool City Region at the heart of the Green Industrial Revolution is one of my top priorities. With our existing strengths in green energy, we have the potential to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.
“I am committed to doubling the number of green jobs in our region and exciting projects like HyNet will be a key part of that. We’re going to lead the way, not only in doing our bit to tackle climate change, but in pioneering new and innovative technology that in turn attracts more jobs and investment to our region.”
David Parkin, HyNet North West Project Director, said HyNet North West will play a big part in tackling climate change regionally. "It will ensure the region remains an attractive location for investment and for companies to grow through the establishment of a clean economy, protection of skilled jobs and creation of thousands of new long-term employment opportunities.
“Our partnership with InterGen at Rocksavage shows just how great an impact HyNet will have on the region – decarbonising homes, workplaces, travel and industry.”
HyNet North West is a low carbon energy project at the forefront of the UK’s journey to a Net Zero future, being developed by a consortium comprising Progressive Energy, Cadent, Essar, Inovyn, Eni, University of Chester, CF Fertilisers and Hanson.