Google, one of the world’s largest tech companies, is working hard to source all its energy from carbon-free sources 24 hours a day. It published a discussion paper last week on the company’s website to announce its progress for the first time.
This undertaking is more difficult than it sounds. Despite rapid progress in battery technology and other forms of energy storage, delivering truly zero carbon energy 24 hours a day with no interruptions remains a challenge. It will be difficult for Google to match energy use with 100 % carbon-free generation at times when green power generation is at its lowest – at night time, for example.
Google’s Power Purchase Agreements
Google purchases additional renewable electricity when generation is high through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), ensuring that its overall carbon footprint from energy is cancelled out. However, Google admits that this is an imperfect solution, and it wants to find a way to use green power around the clock.
Currently, some data centers are greener than others. In all the regions where the tech giant has signed PPAs, at least 65% of the data centers electricity consumption was matched on an hourly basis with carbon-free generation in 2017. But none of the data centers were able to match consumption with 100 % carbon-free power 24/7, although some came close.
Google’s Greenest Data Centers
In Finland, Google’s Hamina site matched its electricity consumption with carbon-free generation an impressive 97 % of the time last year, thanks to many wind PPAs the firm signed in the region and the dominance of carbon-free energy sources on Finland’s grid.
Google’s greenest data centers are in regions where grid energy is dominated by zero emission generation technologies. Therefore, government action is necessary to encourage the roll out of renewable power technology for all of Google’s data centers.
Google is taking steps in the right direction, and hopefully more companies are soon to follow.
[via Green Business]