Just a decade ago a lot of people were still laughing at renewables but it's incredible how fast solar and wind power have evolved the last couple of years. The price of deployment is dropping like a rock and we're seeing more and more reports from around the world about how renewables are becoming on-par with the grid in terms of cost.
Today Google announces it's getting very close to powering all of its global operations with renewable energy. In a blog post, Urs Hölzle explains the search giant is on track to reach this goal in 2017. The senior vice president of Google's technical infrastructure explains the company is now world's largest corporate buyer of renewable energy. In total, Google secured commitments reaching 2600MW, which is about the same as the energy output of two large nuclear reactors.
Hölzle points out renewables are increasingly becoming the cheapest option to generate electricity, as prices of wind and solar dropped 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, since 2010.
To reach this goal we’ll be directly buying enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity our operations consume, globally. And we're focusing on creating new energy from renewable sources, so we only buy from projects that are funded by our purchases.
Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option. Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.
Here's an overview of Google's renewables commitments versus other heavyweights. Google is leading the pack here and most of it consists of wind power, which is not really a surprise as wind as typically cheaper than solar in most parts of the world.
Being powered 100% by renewables will be an important milestone for Google but it will be just the beginning. Looking to the immediate future, Google wants to put a greater focus on regional clean energy purchases in places where it has datacenters and other significant operations. Furthermore, the search giant also wants to expand its horizon beyond primarily wind power, to get clean energy every hour of every day, not just for itself but for the rest of the world. A whitepaper detailing Google's future plans can be read over here.