Google is well-known for its forward-looking investments — search engines, virtual reality, self-driving cars.
But the brand’s most significant investment, arguably, is less well known. For more than a decade, Google has been working to get all of its energy from renewable sources.
And now it’s reached that mark, according to a LinkedIn announcement from Sam Arons, the brand’s senior lead for energy and infrastructure.
Through more than $3.5 billion in renewable investments, the brand is now able to fulfill all of its energy needs, including those of its products, according to Electrek.
New clean energy purchases bring our total wind and solar capacity to over 3 gigawatts—enough renewables to match 100% of the energy it takes to run our products in 2017. pic.twitter.com/8ykaWO9LU0— Google (@Google) November 30, 2017
It currently brings in three gigawatts of renewable electricity globally, almost as much as a small country, making it the world’s largest partner of renewable energy, Electrek notes.
Google is ultimately trying to change the global business status quo, according to its most recent sustainability report.
“Google became carbon neutral in 2007, and since then, our carbon footprint has grown more slowly than our business — proof, 10 years later, that economic growth can be decoupled from environmental impact and resource use,” the report says.
The company’s most recent renewable acquisition involves two wind farms in South Dakota through the energy company Avangrid Renewables.
“With solar and wind declining dramatically in cost and propelling significant employment growth, the transition to clean energy is driving unprecedented economic opportunity and doing so faster than we ever anticipated,” said Gary Demasi, Google's director of global infrastructure, said in a press release.
Over the past decade, the price of renewables has dropped substantially, opening up opportunities for investment. In some parts of the world, renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels.
Despite these advances, the vast majority of energy demands are fulfilled by fossil fuels, which when burned release greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver of climate change.
The Paris climate agreement strives to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. For that to be possible, carbon emissions have to peak by 2020, experts say, which will require strong government action, an issue that Global Citizen campaigns on through the Global Goals. You can take action here.
Google’s investments show that the private sector has a role to play in this transition — even if it’s just proving that the status quo can be changed.