December 6, 2016 9:33 pm

Google set to use only renewable energy by end of 2017

In this March 23, 2010, file photo, the Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
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Next year, all of Google’s offices and data centres around the world will be powered by renewable energy like solar and wind.

It’s a target that was set over five years ago, the tech giant said in a release Tuesday.

Just last month, the company used over 2.6 gigawatts (for reference, the Hoover Dam is a 2 GW facility and as Google officials point out “more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future”).

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It used around 5.7 terawatts (or 5,700 gigawatts) in 2015 – and 2017’s consumption is expected to be higher than that.

It’s buying its energy from wind and solar firms in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Chile.

READ MORE: Renewable energy now accounts for 11% of Canadian energy

That doesn’t mean the energy they use is renewable though; it just means that the company will make sure to purchase the same amount of renewable energy that it uses. The energy it buys will go into the local grids, which are also supplemented by carbon-based power and other energies.

But critics say since renewable energy is dependent on weather, there will be no way a company as large as Google could operate on renewable energy alone.

“If they think they can actually support themselves with wind and solar panels, they should connect them directly to their data centers,” Chris Warren of the Institute for Energy Research told the New York Times.

“In my mind it’s a P.R. gimmick.”

That’s not the case, Marc Oman, EU energy lead at Google told the Guardian.

“This is not about greenwashing,” Oman said. “Our founders are convinced climate change is a real, immediate threat, so we have to do our part.”

The drive for more renewable energy isn’t limited to Google, though. Apple said 93 per cent of its energy “came from renewable sources” in 2015, and last month environment minister Catherine McKenna announced that the Canadian government will be run by renewable energy by 2025.

READ MORE: Catherine McKenna: Government will be fuelled by green power by 2025 

 

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