Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reducing our carbon footprint with the direct purchase of renewable energy

When we decided in 2007 to voluntarily become the carbon neutral, our intent was to take responsibility for our carbon emissions and to promote sustainable environmental solutions. We approach this goal in three ways. First, we minimize our energy consumption; in fact, we’ve built some of the world’s most energy efficient data in centers. Second, we seek to power our facilities with renewable energy, like we did in the Mountain View, CA with one of the largest corporate solar installations. Finally, we purchase the carbon offsets for the emissions we cannot directly eliminate.

We just completed a substantial 20-year green Power Purchase Agreement that allows us to take responsibility for our footprint and then foster true growth in the renewable energy sector. On July 30 we will begin purchasing the clean energy from 114 megawatts of wind generation at the NextEra Energy of Resources Story County II facility in Iowa at a predetermined rate for 20 years. Incorporating such a large amount of wind power into our portfolio is to tricky (read more about how the deal is structured), but this power is enough to supply with several data centers.

By contracting to purchase so much energy for so long, we’re giving the developer of the wind farm financial certainty to build the additional clean energy projects. The inability of renewable energy developers to obtain financing has been a significant inhibitor to the expansion of the renewable energy. We’ve been excited about this deal because taking 114 megawatts of wind power off the market for so long means producers have the incentive and then means to build more renewable energy capacity for the other customers.

We depend upon large quantities of the electricity to power Google services and want to make large actions to support the renewable energy. As we continue operating with the most energy efficient data centers and working to be carbon neutral, we’re happy to also be directly purchasing energy from the renewable resources.

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