Alphabet’s Google aims to power its 24/7 data centers and offices using only carbon-free electricity by 2030, its chief executive told Reuters, relying on its previous objective of matching its energy consumption with 100% renewable energy.
The “stretch target,” as CEO Sundar Pichai has described it, will force Google to go beyond the industry standard of offsetting carbon emissions from the use of electricity and will require technological and political breakthroughs to achieve this.
“The problem is so huge that many of us have to lead the way and show solutions,” said Pichai. “We are a small player in this area, but we can lead by example.”
The wildfires that burn a record-breaking area in the western United States this month have raised awareness about climate change, Pichai said, and Google wants to get more attention with its new lens and features in his products.
Wind, solar and other renewable sources accounted for 61% of Google’s global hourly electricity use last year. The proportion varied across facilities, with carbon-free sources meeting 96% of the hourly electricity needs of Google’s windswept data center in Oklahoma, compared to 3% in its gas-dependent Singapore operation.
But Google, which consumes a little more electricity globally each year than Delaware residents and businesses, is increasingly convinced that it can bridge the gap with batteries to store solar energy overnight, emerging sources such as geothermal reservoirs and better management of energy needs.
“To plan 24/7 for carbon-free emissions in our data centers and campuses around the world, we see a huge logistical challenge, which is why we worked hard last year to model how to get there, ”Pichai said. “And we are confident that we can get there by 2030.”
He declined to share the likely cost of achieving the goal.
Google’s big rivals, including Microsoft and Amazon, aim to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit over the next several decades, but none of them have publicly set the target. target to stop sourcing carbon-based energy.
But companies share a common goal: to push businesses and governments to reduce climate pollution before 2030, when scientists say global warming could turn catastrophic if left unchecked.
Jennifer Layke, global director of the World Resources Institute research group, which received funding from Google, said the company has inspired others in the United States and Europe over the past decade, but that its efforts were now expected to spur action in critical polluting regions such as China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“If we can’t pass carbon, we will suffer from firestorms and droughts,” she said.
Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, which means it has planted trees, bought carbon credits, and funded large amounts of wind power in places where it is plentiful to offset its exploitation of coal and natural gas. in other regions. It also said on Monday that its emissions estimated at 1 million metric tons between 2006 and its launch in 1998 had been offset.
The new goals of the company are to bring 5 gigawatts of renewable energy from certain suppliers, to finance the planting of trees beyond its compensation needs and to share data or forge partnerships with 500 governments through the world to try to reduce 1 gigatonne of carbon emissions per year by 2030.
Google said it would continue to offset carbon emissions unrelated to electricity use, such as employee travel.
Its carbon-free electricity target responds to a demand from 2,000 Google employees who last November asked the company to stop selling data storage and other cloud computing tools to oil companies.
Pichai said the company will continue to “support everyone” with its cloud services and help oil and gas companies switch to other sources.