Google says they're now the world's 'largest corporate purchaser' of renewable energy

Polycount

Posts: 2,505   +549
Staff member

Google has been accelerating their efforts to protect the environment recently. In 2017, the company set out to completely offset their ordinary energy usage with purchased renewable energy provided by solar and wind plants.

According to a blog post written by Google's Senior VP of Technical Infrastructure Urs Hölzle, that goal has finally been achieved. "Google’s total purchase of energy from sources like wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by our operations around the world, including offices and data centers," Hölzle writes.

In other words, Google has essentially become truly carbon neutral. They've done so by committing themselves to the purchase of one kilowatt-hour of renewable energy for every kilowatt-hour of energy they consume across the entire company.

...Google claims they are the "largest corporate purchaser" of clean, renewable energy in the world.

Indeed, Google claims they are the "largest corporate purchaser" of clean, renewable energy in the world. As of March 2018, the search giant accumulated over 3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy. For reference, 2nd place goes to Amazon with 1.2GW of renewable energy purchased so far.

If you're wondering why Google doesn't simply use renewable energy to begin with, the company has an answer for you.

"We say that we 'matched' our energy usage because it’s not yet possible to 'power' a company of our scale by 100 percent renewable energy," Hölzle explains in the blog post. "What’s important to us is that we are adding new clean energy sources to the electrical system, and that we’re buying that renewable energy in the same amount as what we’re consuming, globally and on an annual basis."

Hölzle did not specify where exactly their purchased energy gets used, however. In the blog post, he simply says Google adds their purchased renewable energy "to a power grid somewhere."

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holdum323

Posts: 1,721   +452
Hi That's good news. My wife has a wind farm in Oklahoma. It pays better then oil and gas. She has 3 turbines on her land. It's great and guaranteed for 30 years. I won't be around that long, but grand and great grand kids will be, and can enjoy the income from OG&E. I always knew the Oklahoma wind was good for some thing and now it's paying off. ROFL.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
Well the energy source is renewable you could say, sunlight and wind... but the materials used to capture and store that energy are most certainly not renewable. At least not all of them. We can recycle metals and reuse them but you have to use energy to do that. So the tech isn’t really renewable, it’s jusy a fancy marketing word they like to use.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,942   +2,323
Well the energy source is renewable you could say, sunlight and wind... but the materials used to capture and store that energy are most certainly not renewable. At least not all of them. We can recycle metals and reuse them but you have to use energy to do that. So the tech isn’t really renewable, it’s jusy a fancy marketing word they like to use.
The source of energy itself is renewable, as in it can easily be replaced over and over within a single human lifetime. The sun has over a billion years left in its lifecycle.

For the concern of our immediate survival in the next 100-200 years, renewables are much better for the health of the globe then fossil fuels.

If you really want to go down the "but muh metals are not renewable" train, we can mine asteroids. A single asteroid from the belt, mined could provide enough raw materials to serve global consumption at its current level for a millennia. Guess what isnt up there? Coal and oil.

I have the same amount of posts and points here on TS as you do, but you still out rank me. Please explain "No Such thing as renewable energy" Why do you say that?
Is the sun renewable?
In that it will never conceivably run out during the timeline of human existence? Yes. The sun has over a billion years left in its current lifecycle, before the red giant starts to occur.

In the lifespan of several generations of humans, hell in the lifespan of all of humanity's existence, yes the sun is renewable. The wind is renewable int he same way. Coal and oil cannot be replaced within a single human lifetime, and thus are non renewables.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
For the concern of our immediate survival in the next 100-200 years, renewables are much better for the health of the globe then fossil fuels.
The "health of the globe" thing as it relates to fossil fuels is still quite debatable as one. I'm not entirely convinced for various reasons but I also see no reason not to pollute less when it is economically feasible. We are getting closer and closer to non fuel based systems being economical.

If you really want to go down the "but muh metals are not renewable" train, we can mine asteroids. A single asteroid from the belt, mined could provide enough raw materials to serve global consumption at its current level for a millennia. Guess what isnt up there? Coal and oil.
How much rocket fuel and subsequent pollution would be produced in order to sufficiently mine an asteroid like you are talking. How would you get to the asteroid? Where is it? I doubt you're going to get an asteroid to just hang out in earth orbit to mine its materials. It is not a viable option at this time... we're not even close to Star Trek or Star Wars space travel capabilities yet. So no, metal isn't exactly a renewable resource. It is recyclable, but once we run out we are out. And even though recycling metals is really quite useful, it does take energy and sometimes when you recycle metals by melting them, you lose a small percentage of the original mass.

So I stand by my original opinions.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,303   +905
I don't believe in man made climate change. I believe makeup is polluting the oceans. I believe oil is not finite. If we don't rely on fossil fuels we would all starve or worse. Wind turbines are a hazard as well as unsightly...give me a smoke stack any day. There are guys there earning good money. Oh and I rarely put my computer in stand by and a good PSU warms up my room
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,309   +5,764
I don't believe in man made climate change. I believe makeup is polluting the oceans. I believe oil is not finite. If we don't rely on fossil fuels we would all starve or worse. Wind turbines are a hazard as well as unsightly...give me a smoke stack any day. There are guys there earning good money. Oh and I rarely put my computer in stand by and a good PSU warms up my room
This is some pretty good satire, well done.
 

IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
Similar sarcastic mockery ensues when there is a mass murder involving a firearm... "wow a shooting in a gun free zone! How is that possible? The sign didn't work?!".

Anyway, I'm in the middle on this. There is plenty of evidence on both sides of the "climate change" (also known as weather, there's some more satire for you), global warming, etc. etc. argument that I have decided the evidence is inconclusive. Again though, I say that if we can avoid polluting the environment then why not? I try to be as "green" as is economically feasible and I have no problem with trying hard to get away from fossil fuels. However people always want to use the term "renewable energy" yet seem to forget that batteries, which right now are a BIG part of this green energy movement, use materials that have to be mined and refined for use, is only available in limited quantities, and is not easily recyclable. So how renewable is that? There is certainly an element of "renewable-ness" about it, the source of energy, being wind or sunlight; but the overall system is most certainly not renewable.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,309   +5,764
Similar sarcastic mockery ensues when there is a mass murder involving a firearm... "wow a shooting in a gun free zone! How is that possible? The sign didn't work?!".

Anyway, I'm in the middle on this. There is plenty of evidence on both sides of the "climate change" (also known as weather, there's some more satire for you), global warming, etc. etc. argument that I have decided the evidence is inconclusive. Again though, I say that if we can avoid polluting the environment then why not? I try to be as "green" as is economically feasible and I have no problem with trying hard to get away from fossil fuels. However people always want to use the term "renewable energy" yet seem to forget that batteries, which right now are a BIG part of this green energy movement, use materials that have to be mined and refined for use, is only available in limited quantities, and is not easily recyclable. So how renewable is that? There is certainly an element of "renewable-ness" about it, the source of energy, being wind or sunlight; but the overall system is most certainly not renewable.
Batteries are not an integral part of renewable energies, they simply allow cities, towns, and people to store the energy for consumption or sale at a later time. The sun may not be out all day to power a city's solar array but if they diversified their power portfolio that wouldn't be a problem. Batteries are mostly a band-aid over to the transition to renewables.

Batteries definitely do aid in certain situations and given the number of other devices that use them, for sure there will have to be advancements in battery technology.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
Batteries are not an integral part of renewable energies, they simply allow cities, towns, and people to store the energy for consumption or sale at a later time. The sun may not be out all day to power a city's solar array but if they diversified their power portfolio that wouldn't be a problem. Batteries are mostly a band-aid over to the transition to renewables.
Depends on the power requirements for the application. The efficiency of solar isn't high enough to provide the required energy needs for most households, towns, and cities. So right now, I do consider batteries an integral part.

And solar panels are not renewable. Large amounts of difficult to get earth materials like silicon are used. We are going to run out of this stuff at some point, and solar panels do "wear" over time, being less and less efficient, although it is a pretty slow process if quality materials and assembly are used.

Have you seen large scare scenarios where they are not needed? You say "diversified power portfolio", what do you mean by that?

And what do you mean by renewables? None of the tech we can create is truly "renewable" in my opinion.
 
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Evernessince

Posts: 5,309   +5,764
Depends on the power requirements for the application. The efficiency of solar isn't high enough to provide the required energy needs for most households, towns, and cities. So right now, I do consider batteries an integral part.

And solar panels are not renewable. Large amounts of difficult to get earth materials like silicon are used. We are going to run out of this stuff at some point, and solar panels do "wear" over time, being less and less efficient, although it is a pretty slow process if quality materials and assembly are used.

Have you seen large scare scenarios where they are not needed? You say "diversified power portfolio", what do you mean by that?

And what do you mean by renewables? None of the tech we can create is truly "renewable" in my opinion.
Um, Silicon is made from sand (which is extremely common) or any other rock that contains silica. We would have to process every rock and mountain on earth before we ran out and by them there would be no earth left. Silica is far far far more plentiful than fossil fuels. It's like comparing a million years supply vs a hundred years supply.

Everything wears but it's a good thing solar panels are very recyclable. 95% of the materials in a solar panel can be reused with current processes and that will only improve over time. In addition, modern Solar panels are very robust. They retain 92% of their efficiency after 20 years.

https://www.engineering.com/Designe...75/What-Is-the-Lifespan-of-a-Solar-Panel.aspx

By diversify, I mean use multiple forms of renewable energy. Wave, Hydro, Geo, Wind, Solar, ect. This reduces the risk of any one form of energy being missing. For example, let's say it wasn't a very windy year. Well, that wouldn't be a huge deal to a city that split it's power production between wind, solar, and hydro.

Renewable energy only refers to the engery itself, not the processes. Sunlight is renewable although the technology to gather it might not be. The good thing about collecting renewable energy is that you can approach collecting it in many different ways. With fossil fuels, you can't. You have to hope that you keep finding more fuel or else you are SOL.
 

IAMTHESTIG

Posts: 1,868   +900
Um, Silicon is made from sand (which is extremely common) or any other rock that contains silica. We would have to process every rock and mountain on earth before we ran out and by them there would be no earth left. Silica is far far far more plentiful than fossil fuels. It's like comparing a million years supply vs a hundred years supply.

Everything wears but it's a good thing solar panels are very recyclable. 95% of the materials in a solar panel can be reused with current processes and that will only improve over time. In addition, modern Solar panels are very robust. They retain 92% of their efficiency after 20 years.

https://www.engineering.com/Designe...75/What-Is-the-Lifespan-of-a-Solar-Panel.aspx

By diversify, I mean use multiple forms of renewable energy. Wave, Hydro, Geo, Wind, Solar, ect. This reduces the risk of any one form of energy being missing. For example, let's say it wasn't a very windy year. Well, that wouldn't be a huge deal to a city that split it's power production between wind, solar, and hydro.

Renewable energy only refers to the engery itself, not the processes. Sunlight is renewable although the technology to gather it might not be. The good thing about collecting renewable energy is that you can approach collecting it in many different ways. With fossil fuels, you can't. You have to hope that you keep finding more fuel or else you are SOL.
Ahh good discussion. I think you got me there on the silicon. Still, refinement and production takes energy.

As for solar panels, I hope you are right on that one.

Unfortunately not all this green tech is economically viable for everyone yet, and that is what is really holding many people including myself back and why it is such a big argument.

I really want an electric car, I really do... they are just too expensive in my opinion and take too long to "pay for themselves" and by the time they do I will be buying a new battery pack for it.

I really want a solar powered home, I really do, but again it is just too expensive and will take a very long time to pay for itself. Plus t meet my energy demands at night I would have to have a way to store the energy, and we're back to batteries.

Batteries just suck but we have to have them. You should be able to store energy for use at a later time and not always rely on active energy production/conversion at all times. I see what you mean by diversification now but that can be expensive, and requires even more resources. We still got a ways to go but we keep wasting money on supposed "green" tech that isn't as green in the end as we thought it would be. I will grant things will become more efficient to build but our tech is always the limiting factor which is pretty much what I'm getting it in this whole discussion.

I hear super capacitors are the next big thing but who knows where tech will go, we all want that magical device that can have infinite energy storage or infinite energy production.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,309   +5,764
Ahh good discussion. I think you got me there on the silicon. Still, refinement and production takes energy.

As for solar panels, I hope you are right on that one.

Unfortunately not all this green tech is economically viable for everyone yet, and that is what is really holding many people including myself back and why it is such a big argument.

I really want an electric car, I really do... they are just too expensive in my opinion and take too long to "pay for themselves" and by the time they do I will be buying a new battery pack for it.

I really want a solar powered home, I really do, but again it is just too expensive and will take a very long time to pay for itself. Plus t meet my energy demands at night I would have to have a way to store the energy, and we're back to batteries.

Batteries just suck but we have to have them. You should be able to store energy for use at a later time and not always rely on active energy production/conversion at all times. I see what you mean by diversification now but that can be expensive, and requires even more resources. We still got a ways to go but we keep wasting money on supposed "green" tech that isn't as green in the end as we thought it would be. I will grant things will become more efficient to build but our tech is always the limiting factor which is pretty much what I'm getting it in this whole discussion.

I hear super capacitors are the next big thing but who knows where tech will go, we all want that magical device that can have infinite energy storage or infinite energy production.
Yeah, processing silicon is becoming more expensive. The purity required only increases the cost.

Energy storage needs to massively improve in general, as that's were we are getting allot of eWaste. The materials aren't super common either and they are dangerous to the environment.