Google achieves 100% renewable energy target – becoming first public cloud to do so

Google has touted itself as the first public cloud provider to run all its clouds on renewable energy.

The company, which says it is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world – almost three times as much as Amazon and Microsoft, its primary cloud rivals – has been working to attain this goal for the best part of a decade.

With the belief that 2017 would be the year the ‘road to 100%’ would be completed, the company ramped up its efforts. 2016 saw Google’s operational projects cover almost three fifths (57%) of the energy used from global utilities. With the addition of a record number of new contracts for wind and solar developments still under construction, it enabled the company to surpass the 100% total.

“Over the course of 2017, across the globe, for every kilowatt hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt hour of renewably energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google,” wrote Urs Hölzle, Google technical infrastructure senior vice president in a blog post. “This makes us the first public cloud, and company of our size, to have achieved this feat.”

Hölzle added that plans will only escalate in future months and years with new data centre and office openings. In February, Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined expansion plans for Google’s data centres in the US, having attended the groundbreaking for the outlet in Clarksville/Montgomery County in Tennessee. Pichai noted the importance of renewable energy generation in data centre building and maintenance.

“People often discuss ‘the cloud’ as if it’s built out of air – but it’s actually made up of buildings, machinery, and people who construct and manage it all,” Pichai wrote at the time. “Today we employ an estimated 1,900 people directly on our data centre campuses. We’ve created thousands of construction jobs – both for our data centres themselves, and for renewable energy generation.

“Our renewable energy purchasing commitments to date will result in energy infrastructure investments of more than $3.5 billion globally – about two thirds of that in the United States,” Pichai added.