Google, Apple smash their 100% renewable electricity goals

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Within days of each other, Google and Apple both announce they are now matching all of their electricity needs with renewable energy production.

share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Google’s data center in Eemshaven, The Netherlands. Source: Google

Two of the world’s biggest computing and data tech giants, Google and Apple, have announced within days of each other that they are now meeting all of their electricity demand with renewable energy, in one way or another.

First came Google, with a blog post on April 4 declaring that the company’s total purchase of energy from renewable sources of mainly wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity it used across its global operations in 2017, including its offices and those energy guzzling data centres.

As the blog is careful to note, Google doesn’t claim to be 100 per cent renewable powered – “because it’s not yet possible to ‘power’ a company of our scale by 100 per cent renewable energy.”

Powering existing data centres directly with 100 per cent renewables is particularly difficult, considering that most of them are grid connected.

Rather, explains Google’s president of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, it means that “for every kilowatt-hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt-hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google.

“This makes us the first public Cloud, and company of our size, to have achieved this feat,” he said.

It also makes Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world, the company claims.

“Today, we have contracts to purchase 3GW of output from renewable energy projects; no corporate purchaser buys more renewable energy than we do,” Hölzle added.

“To date, our renewable energy contracts have led to over $3 billion in new capital investment around the world.”

And it will have to keep up the good work. According to Google’s head of energy strategy, Neha Palmer, the company’s energy demand growth has been in the double digits for the past six years, and will likely continue on that trajectory.

“Investing in renewables makes sense for our business,” she told the Financial Times. “These are long-term transactions with fixed prices . . . the prices in some markets are competitive or even lower than conventional power.”

But the next major renewables goal for Google, says Hölzle, is to get it to a point where renewables and other carbon-free energy sources “actually power our operations every hour of every day.”

“It will take a combination of technology, policy and new deal structures to get there, but we’re excited for the challenge. We can’t wait to get back to work.”

Apple’s Cupertino HQ is powered by 100% renewables, in part from the 17MW rooftop solar installation. Source: Apple

Then comes Apple, which in its own blog, published five days later on April 9, announced that all of its global facilities – retail stores, offices and data centres across 43 countries – were now powered with 100 percent clean energy.

“After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

According to the blog, Apple currently has 25 renewables projects in operation around the world, totalling 626MW – a massive 286MW of which was added in 2017, in solar PV alone.

The company also has 15 more projects in construction which, once built, will add up to more than 1.4GW of renewable energy generation across 11 countries.

This pipeline includes plans to build a new data centre in Waukee, Iowa, that will run entirely on renewables from day one.

And a partnership with Japanese solar company Daini Denryoku to install more than 300 rooftop solar systems to generate a combined 18,000 megawatt-hours a year — enough to power more than 3,000 Japanese homes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 Comments
  1. Joe 5 months ago

    Is Craig Kelly reading this one? Another article that Renew Economy can send across to the Kelly.

  2. Ian 5 months ago

    Not all renewable energy is created equal to consumption. There is the little question of timing. Terabits of solar in the day and zerobits at night. If these corporations want to go the extra mile they need to consider storage. Not necessarily data but energy.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf 5 months ago

      Terrawatts of solar in the day, by linking the European, Russian grids, the sun would shine over it, up to 20 hours a day, the sun set at 10 PM one day, when I was in Britain one day and rose at 5 AM.

      • Ian 5 months ago

        Nice idea, linking grids across AfroEurasia. How would you all get over your political differences to make this work?

        • stucrmnx120fshwf 5 months ago

          Self interest, as long as it wasn’t critical, for non critical industry, for example, selling electricity, to each other, at times, when it saves them money. Makes them money, as they have a surplus at these times, you’ve seen electricity given away for free, when there’s an oversupply.

  3. Jon 5 months ago

    I’m not quite understanding Googles statement.
    What are they doing with the excess energy?
    They are obviously buying some non renewable energy but saying they are buying the equivalent in renewables as well, I’m missing something.

    • David Osmond 5 months ago

      I’m guessing it is similar to the ACT’s 100% renewable target. Both the ACT and Google have signed contracts that enable the construction of renewable generators that over the course of a year will provide a similar amount of electricity to what they use. The electricity from these generators is then fed into the grid. But neither the ACT nor Google are using that electricity directly, they get electricity from the grid, so no-one is to know if they are getting electricity produced by the wind or solar farms, or from a fossil or hydro generator. Sometimes the renewable generators will be providing more power than Google (or the ACT) uses, and at other times the renewable generators will be providing less. But regardless, the ACT and Google have enabled the construction of renewable generation which is greening the grid in proportion to the amount of electricity that Google and the ACT uses.

  4. happosai 5 months ago

    This is a bit greenwashing from Apple. While apple itself may be 100% Green, thats just a bunch of offices in California. The actual energy consuming stuff, like manufacturing and logistics, Apple has outsourced. All Iphone manufacturing is done by Foxconn in China.

    If Apple was really serious, they would require 100% renewables from contractors too. As a massive buyer with pricing power, Apple is in an unique in the position to demand whatever they want from subcontractors.

  5. itdoesntaddup 5 months ago

    Having achieved this milestone of buying and re-selling renewable power, and buying and consuming non-renewable power where the supply cannot be made directly either for reasons of time or lack of direct connection, where do they go now? Are they going to become even bigger electricity traders and retailers with more surplus power for sale?

    Do they really think that Malta is a viable technology?

    https://x.company/explorations/malta/

Comments are closed.