Google was a leader among large technology companies seeking total carbon neutrality after declaring this status in 2007 and subsequently balancing all of their global electricity consumption with renewable energies. Now the company is breaking new ground by being the first large company to effectively eliminate its entire carbon footprint – back to its inception – which it has achieved to date by purchasing “high quality carbon offset payments”. In addition, the goal is set to use completely renewable energy sources by 2030.
The first achievement – eliminating the entire carbon footprint – can be achieved relatively easily by spending a lot of money. Google didn̵
In the meantime, Google is taking on the much more difficult task of running its entire business 100 percent anywhere on carbon-free energy sources. That means offices, locations and data centers everywhere for all products in Gmail, Search, YouTube and Maps. While Google already claims that all energy consumption is 100 percent from renewable sources, it does not do so by using carbon-free sources directly. Instead, as is typical of companies looking to operate greener with large and dispersed physical footprints, Google is buying renewable energy elsewhere to offset the use of non-renewable energy in places where no directly accessible sources are available.
The obligation to only use carbon-free energy directly throughout its operations is therefore a major undertaking that requires the actual development of new clean energy sources. To this end, by 2030, Google will help bring 5 GW of new carbon-free energy sources online in regions that have physical resources that need access to clean electricity.
Funding the development of local clean energy sources to power its facilities is not new, and most large technology companies with a clean energy agenda are following it. However, Google’s specific goal of making all power sources carbon free by 2030 sets a firm deadline for an unprecedented goal for a company of its size and influence.