Google aims to power its data centres and offices solely with renewable energy by 2030, its CEO said, becoming the biggest company in the world to commit to ditching coal and natural gas power.
The “stretch goal”, as CEO Sundar Pichai described it, will force Google to move beyond the tech industry norm of offsetting carbon emissions from electricity use and require technological and political breakthroughs to achieve.
“The problem is so immense, many of us need to lead the way and show solutions,” Pichai said. “We’re one small player in this but we can set an example.”
Wildfires burning a record area in the western US this month have increased public awareness of climate change, Pichai said, and Google wants to bring further attention through its new goal as well as product features.
Wind, solar and other renewable sources accounted for 61% of Google’s global hourly electricity usage last year. The proportion varied by facility, with carbon-free sources fulfilling 96% of hourly power needs at Google’s wind-swept Oklahoma data centre, compared with 3% at its gas-reliant Singapore operation.
But Google, which consumes slightly more power annually worldwide than residents and businesses in Delaware, has grown optimistic that it can bridge the gap with batteries to store solar power overnight, emerging sources such as geothermal reservoirs and better management of power needs.