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Google’s biggest renewable energy purchase

Published: 3 October 2019 - Carly Wills

Google has made the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history - made up of a 1,600 megawatt (MW) package of agreements that includes 18 new energy deals. 

Together, these deals will increase the company’s worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40%, to 5,500MW, which is equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops. Once all these projects come online, Google’s carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington DC or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year. 

The latest agreements will also spur the construction of more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure, including millions of solar panels and hundreds of wind turbines spread across three continents. In all, Google’s renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.   

These 18 new deals span the globe, and include investments in the US, Chile and Europe. In the US, Google will purchase energy from 720MW of solar farms in North Carolina (155MW), South Carolina (75MW), and Texas (490MW) - more than doubling the capacity of the company’s global solar portfolio to date. In South America, Google is adding 125MW of renewable energy capacity to the grid that supplies its data centre in Chile. Finally, almost half (793MW) of the new renewable energy capacity purchased will be located in Europe, specifically Finland (255MW), Sweden (286MW), Belgium (92MW), and Denmark (160MW).

Up to now, most of Google’s renewable energy purchases in the US have been wind-driven, but the declining cost of solar (down more than 80% in the past decade) has made harnessing the sun increasingly cost-effective. Meanwhile, the Chile deal marks the first time it buys power in a hybrid technology deal that combines solar and wind. Because the wind often blows at different times than the sun shines, pairing them will allow the company to match the Chilean data centre with carbon-free electricity for a larger portion of each day.

Google is also working to make clean energy mainstream and break down the barriers for those who want to purchase renewable energy. The company has also announced two new grants from to provide further support for organisations that expand access to clean energy for all businesses - from flower shops to big-box retailers to startups. Google is providing a $500,000 grant to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) in the US and a €500,000 grant to RE-Source in Europe. These grants will help fund the development of new purchasing models, provide training and resources for consumers, and enable more widespread access to clean power.

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