Google throws gauntlet to Apple, revealing it will go 100pc green in 2017

7 Dec 2016

Wind turbines in silhouette. Image: cla78/Shutterstock

Google is planning to be an industry leader in renewable energy usage, revealing that, in 2017, it will be 100pc powered by renewables, challenging Apple’s position as the front-runner.

While all companies should be working together to make the important switch to renewable energy in the face of ever-worsening climate change, there is no denying that the tech giants of Silicon Valley have been racing to be the first to go completely green.

Now, in a major announcement from Google, it looks like the company’s entire global operations will go 100pc renewable in 2017, based on its current estimates.

Benefit of cheaper renewables

This will include the company’s data centres and offices, turning Google into the largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts of wind and solar energy.

In a blog post, Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice-president for technical infrastructure, said the availability of renewable energy to the company is down to the reduction in costs. Wind and solar energy costs have decreased by 60pc and 80pc, respectively, over the last six years.

In just the past year, Google has expanded its technology to make its offices and data centres more energy efficient. This has been achieved through innovations like the use of AI to cool its data centres, resulting in an overall PUE reduction of 15pc.

Google currently has two data centres in Dublin, but also has dozens of others across the globe, which are being powered by 20 renewable energy projects.

‘We have lots of progress left to make’

Aside from revealing its intention to go 100pc renewable next year, Google has also launched a new environmental website, coinciding with the launch of a new Timelapse portal that lets people see how environments have changed over the past 32 years.

“The science tells us that tackling climate change is an urgent global priority. We believe the private sector, in partnership with policy leaders, must take bold steps and that we can do so in a way that leads to growth and opportunity. And we have a responsibility to do so – to our users and the environment,” Hölzle wrote.

“We have lots of progress left to make, but these achievements we’re announcing today feel like a breath of fresh air. Now, back to work.”

Google’s biggest rival, Apple, is also making considerable strides in making its global operations greener. In fact, Apple is considered one of the greenest companies on the planet, according to the environmental organisation, Greenpeace.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic