Google intends to power its data centres and offices using only carbon-free power by 2030, its chief executive told Reuters, building on its previous aim of matching its energy use with 100% renewable energy.
The “stretch goal,” as Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai explained it, will force Google to move beyond the tech sector norm of offsetting carbon emissions from power use and require political and technological breakthroughs to achieve.
“We’re one small player in this but we can set an example.”
Wildfires burning off a record area in the western United States this past month have improved public awareness of climate change, Pichai said, and Google would like to attract additional focus by its new target in addition to product features.
Wind, solar and other renewable sources accounted for 61 percent of Google’s global hourly electricity usage last year. The proportion varied by facility, together with carbon-free sources fulfilling 96% of hourly power requires at Google’s wind-swept Oklahoma data centre in comparison to 3 percent during its gas-reliant Singapore operation.
However, Google, which absorbs slightly more power annually globally than residents and companies in Delaware, has grown optimistic that it can bridge the gap with batteries to store solar energy overnight, emerging resources such as geothermal reservoirs and greater management of power needs.
“To plan 24/7 hourly being carbon-free in our data centres and campuses around the world, we see an enormous logistics challenge, which is why we’ve been hard at work modelling the last year how to get there,” Pichai said.
He declined to discuss the likely cost of attaining the objective.
Big Google rivals including Microsoft and Amazon.com have targeted eliminating more carbon from the air than they exude over the forthcoming decades, but none of these have publicly set a goal to quit sourcing carbon-based energy.
However, the businesses share a common goal of catalysing businesses and authorities to curb climate pollution prior to 2030, when scientists say global warming could become devastating if unchecked.
Jennifer Layke, global manager at research group World Resources Institute, which has received Google funding, stated the business inspired others at the US and Europe over the past decade but its efforts must currently spur activity in critical polluting regions such as China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“If we can’t shift from carbon, we will suffer the firestorms and the droughts,” she explained.
Google has been carbon-neutral because 2007, meaning it’s planted trees, bought carbon credits and funded large quantities of wind energy in places where it’s abundant to offset its tapping of coal and natural gas power in other regions. It also said Monday that its estimated 1 million metric tons of emissions between 2006 and its 1998 launch have been offset.
The organisation’s new aims include bringing 5 gigawatts of renewable energy near a few suppliers, financing tree planting beyond its own offset needs and sharing information or exceeding partnerships with 500 governments across the world to attempt and cut 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030.
Google said it would continue to offset carbon emissions irrelevant to power use, like from employee travel.
Its carbon-free electricity goal satisfies one need of 2,000 Google employees who survive November petitioned the company to stop selling data storage and other cloud computing resources to petroleum companies and funding think tanks or politicians who deny the existence of climate change.
On Monday, many employees who signed the petition said Google risks undermining its new goals if it keeps supporting customers and politicians exacerbating global warming.
“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but the urgency of the situation demands more,” workers said in a statement.
Pichai said Google would continue to”support everyone” with its cloud services and assist oil and gas companies transition to tapping different sources.
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Google aims to run on carbon-free energy by 2030‘ article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Paresh Dave. Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington. Editing by Greg Mitchell, Kim Coghill and Lisa Shumaker.
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