After bailing out Wall Street in 2008, are Americans ready to provide a one trillion dollar bailout to our electric utilities in 2030? Even though worldwide demand for energy is estimated to rise 41 percent by 2035, Barclays recently downgraded their outlook for utilities. The question we should ask ourselves is what does it mean when you downgra
For 2013, we reported a carbon footprint of 1.77 million metric tons to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Our gross carbon footprint was up slightly from 2012, but our data center efficiency initiatives, renewable energy purchases and high-quality carbon offset purchases brought our footprint back down to zero. We’re proud to report that our carbon intensity dropped for the fifth year in a row, down to 31.8 metric tons of CO2 / million dollars of revenue, a drop of 3.6% from 2012.
Last year when we posted our 2012 update we calculated that serving an active Google user for one month is like driving a car one mile. We updated our numbers and this calculation still holds true. To serve that user, Google emits about 8 grams of CO2 per day.
This annual update also provides a nice opportunity to look back on the steps we’ve taken over the past year as we’ve worked to reduce our environmental impact:
- Data centers: We addressed efficiency, industry challenges and how to solve them at our “How Green is the Internet” summit in 2013. Being the most efficient is important to us, especially at our data centers where we use 50% of the energy of a typical data center.
- Environmental certifications: We’re the first major Internet company in the U.S. to get multi-site ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification, for 9 data centers in the US and EU (so far).
- Renewable energy: To date, we’ve signed long term contracts for over a gigawatt of renewable energy for our data centers and facilities. We have stayed true to our rigorous method for purchasing clean energy. We look for renewables when evaluating new locations and we factor an internal carbon price into our financial calculations.
- Renewable energy tariff: We use renewable energy when we can, but because of some utilities’ rules, we don’t always have a choice. Last year we worked with Duke Energy, a major utility, to develop a “green source rider.” This gives the option for Google and other companies like us to purchase renewable energy directly from Duke. Google was the first customer to request and successfully receive this. We have detailed our approach to help others in the industry to do it too.
- Carbon offsets: To bring our footprint to zero, we invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions at sources outside of Google. We're very picky to make sure that our investments have a positive impact - one that wouldn’t have happened without us.
- Investments: We’ve also been hard at work bringing more clean energy to everyone. We’ve signed agreements to provide $1.5 billion in funding to renewable energy projects, like Ivanpah, which was named Plant of the Year for its innovative solar power tower technology. With our investments, we’re helping energize 2.5 GW of renewable energy across the world. That’s enough to power 500,000 homes and far more energy than we use as a company.
Overall, 35% of our energy for our operations—that includes offices, all of our data centers and other infrastructure—came from renewable sources last year. That’s an increase from the previous year, which is no mean feat given how quickly we’re growing as a company. To keep up with that growth, we’re continuing to sign new long-term energy contracts, like our recent 407 MW agreement with MidAmerican Energy. As these projects come online, the amount of energy we get from renewable sources will continue to grow.
Posted by Kelsey Vandermeulen, Program Manager, Carbon Offsets
It was good news for renewable energy when President Barack Obama in June proposed carbon dioxide restrictions on existing power plants. It is even better news now that he may use the plan to leverage an international climate accord.
Last Chance! Today Is the Last Day to Nominate A Project of the Year and A Woman of the Year. Nominate NOW!
A new report written by Nathaniel Bullard at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) highlights the difficulties large institutional investors would have divesting from fossil fuels. What it does not specifically discuss is that these difficulties could lead to large financial losses for investors who see the difficulty of divesting as a reason to delay.
According to a report by the Energy Information Administration, wind curtailments in Texas have dropped steadily and substantially since 2011 thanks mostly to the state’s completion of 3,500 miles of transmission lines as part of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones program. A curtailment refers to and event where a power plant is asked to slow
The new report from the Taxpayers for Common Sense shows that oil companies paid just 11.7 percent of their U.S. income in federal taxes over the last five years, and the “smaller” companies included in the study that reported positive earnings only paid 3.7 percent. To achieve such a low tax rate, oil companies were able to take advantage of special tax breaks and loopholes that allowed them to defer more than $17 billion in taxes they would have otherwise owed.
"We can't do it as an individual, but four hundred communities aggregating and asking for local wind power and solar power — that's really powerful." Oak Park, IL, is one of hundreds of Illinois towns using their authority to buy electricity in bulk on behalf of its residential and small business customers. So far, most communities have used the po
Perry Stoneman (pictured below), Corporate Vice President and Global Head of Sectors and Utilities at Capgemini, who will be speaking at this year's European Utility Week, says that it is not clear whether enough utilities have their digital roadmap in place. He suggests that utilities have the opportunity to be a part of this change but that they will need to plan ahead.
China and Brazil are looking for ways to redirect a global climate debate, which they say unfairly accuses developing nations of delaying limits on fossil-fuel pollution.
The world’s largest enterprises are realizing the benefits of renewable energy, motivating many top-tier companies to set up voluntary corporate renewable energy programs that scale up their use of on-site solar and wind power systems. Many factors have influenced Fortune 500 companies and other leading enterprises to adopt these targets, including an attractive economic return on investment, the worsening effects of climate change, and a deep concern from their customer base about environmental sustainability. Corporations are fighting to bring about public policy that facilitates renewable energy installations on commercial buildings. Twenty-four companies from the Fortune 100 and Global Fortune 100 have set specific targets for percentage of renewable energy generated, capacity (MW) or level of investment in renewable energy for their own operations.
People speak reverentially about the electricity grid, and rightly so. The U.S.’ electricity grid is an awesome technical, operational, and public policy accomplishment. Who can deny the matchless service it delivers, occasional weather-related breakdowns notwithstanding? In fact, acts of Mother Nature — Hurricane Sandy, say — only highlight its otherwise stellar reliability. And rural electrification, like rural telephony, is a triumph of public policy with foresight.
What do megajoules have to do with hectoliters? Everything, if you are considering the energy intensity of manufacturing beer. And after a recent tour of the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, I’ve learned that when it comes to a commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency in beer brewing, Colorado’s thriving craft brewing scene is a great example.
France’s planned energy law will mobilize about €10 billion (US $13.4 billion) in investment through tax credits and low-interest loans to spur efficiency and renewable power, Environment Minister Segolene Royal said.
If all energy production channels were employed, the United States has sufficient resources to eliminate all coal, gasoline and diesel combustion in all demand sectors and replace them with natural gas, wind and solar electricity firmed and shaped with both grid-scale and distributed energy storage. I believe that we can reach a zero-air-pollution, coal-free, crude-import free, all-electric low-cost energy future. We have energy rhetoric and technology to get there; do we have leadership and will?
Community choice aggregation describes a situation where a town can become the bulk buyer of electricity on behalf of its residential and small business customers. Such local aggregations serve about 5 percent of utility customers in Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and California, but it’s Marin Clean Energy in California that stands a