Google announced today, December 6, 2016, that it has reached 2.6 GW of renewable energy purchased, putting the company on pace to reach 100 percent renewable energy in 2017. In its announcement, the company noted that renewable energy has both managed its carbon footprint and been good for business as the lowest cost option.
Google has been a catalyst in the dramatic growth in renewable energy procurement among corporations, redefining the art of the possible by bringing significant renewable energy projects onto the same grid its data centers are powered from. Google’s milestone of 2.6 GW of renewable energy purchased puts it well above what most corporations have done to drive renewable growth.
As Google itself acknowledges, its effort to become 100 percent renewably powered remains a work in progress due to the limited renewable energy options offered by monopoly utilities. The company rightly highlights the need to change government policies to drive investment and create new pathways that will allow all of their operations to be directly powered by renewables. Google and other IT leaders like Apple and Facebook have increasingly used their influence to open previously closed markets to allow for more access to renewables.
Google has put its money where its mouth is on renewable energy over the past six years, repeatedly showing that renewables are not only good for the climate, but good for business. More than ever, companies must show this sort of leadership on renewable energy. Now is not the time to be silent. Corporations have helped drive growth during the Obama administration, but given the hostility to climate change and renewable energy policies by the incoming Trump Administration, companies that have made commitments to power their operations with renewable energy need to speak up on the critical importance of strengthening renewable energy policies as Google has done today.
Greenpeace will release its latest Clicking Clean report, assessing the performance of Google, Apple, Amazon and other internet companies on their use of renewable energy, on Jan. 10, 2017.