Google: We Will Be 100 Percent Green By 2017
Google has claimed the company will be 100 percent green by early next year, in an official blog post this week. They used 5.7 terawatt hours of electricity in 2015!
Silicon valley may be the tech hub of the world, but that figure means Google itself consumes roughly as much energy as the entire of San Francisco. That energy is now mostly being sourced from solar panels and wind farms.
The catch is that the juggernaut isn't capable of leaving the national grid entirely. To combat this it is offsetting any carbon energy it does use by investing in the equivalent amount of renewables.
Critics may use that against them (after all they are still polluting), yet you'd be hard pressed to find a corporate giant that's backing green energy in multiple regions of the world and completely matching what it spends on fossil fuels. They are now the biggest corporate buyer of renewables on the planet. A step in the right direction is more than an apt description, and Urs Holzle, the company's senior vice president for technical infrastructure says that it's "just the beginning".
"We began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change - but it also makes business sense. I'm thrilled to announce that in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy on our global operations ... Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone - not just Google - had access to clean energy," he wrote in his blog.
It's not just about going green either, it's also good business sense to have such a large supply of renewable power because it diversifies against the price volatile of traditional sources like oil.
Google's green gravy train will also reportedly account for $3.5 billion in new infrastructure, the majority in the US but also stretching to Sweden, Chile and other countries.
"For one company to be doing this is a very big deal. It means other companies of a similar scale will feel pressure to move," says Stanford University energy and environment lecturer Jonathan Koomey.
The Institute for Energy Research, headed by Trump transition team member Thomas Pyle, is not so ready to heap on the praise. A spokesman for the fossil fuel industry funded group called Google's announcement "misleading" and "window dressing."
"It's a PR stunt, claiming 100 percent renewables when that's not actually the case ... You can't pick and choose what source you're getting your electricity from when you're connected to the grid. The way they're presenting it is misleading."
Other corporations also making an effort in the vein of Google include Amazon, who are currently powered by roughly 40 percent renewable sources and Microsoft who are aiming to be 50 percent green by 2018.
Could they be doing more? Or should they be doing anything at all? The debate continues to rage on, at least in the political and corporate sphere.
Posted by KeelanB at December 7, 2016 8:11 AM
Good for Google. And it seems like they did it all by themselves with government decree.
Not sure how paying more for ‘carbon energy’ is supposed to negate the use of it, though.
Even still, good for them.
What would be a real achievement is if someone developed a green household electric generator that would provide 100% of a household’s electricity/heat/cooling. Now that would be an achievement. Actually, I think the achievement would be to get something like that on the market and priced affordably.
Imagine a safe, affordable, self-contained, nuclear generator built with every new house!
Hydrogen is plentiful and when it burns, produces pure water. The entire taxi fleet in a nearby city and the city buses run on hydrogen. At the pump, hydrogen is priced about the same as regular gasoline. Fleets of hydrogen powered semi-trucks are now on the road.
When science discovers ways to separate hydrogen from water cheaply, mankind will benefit tremendously.
The existence of blizzards does not contradict AGW theory. Please don’t waste my time with your stupid strawman arguments.
Suppose Google needs 100 GJ of power and Sam needs 1 GJ of power. Google gets 99 GJ from alternative energy and 1 GJ from fossil fuels. Sam was planning to get his 1 GJ of power from fossil fuels, but Google pays him to get his GJ from alternative sources instead. Theoretically, Google could claim to that they got 100% of their energy from alternative sources.
In the real world it is difficult to verify whether or not Sam actually changed his behavior in response to Google’s payment. Also, when “Sam” is actually thousands of people all across the planet, verification is way tougher.
In yet other cases, Sam actually doesn’t change his energy purchasing behavior, but he might plant trees or do something else to offset Google’s carbon footprint. Verification is even more dubious in this circumstance.
Why is it a good thing for Google to have gone carbon free if AGW theory is complete bunk?
If Google did what they actually said they did, and it’s not fake news, then I applaud them. Like I’ve always said, I’m all for converting to renewable resources.
The thing that makes me proud of Google’s efforts is they did it without the government punishing them into compliance. They didn’t have to do it because government cut off their only source of energy. They didn’t do it because government taxed them into submission. They did it because they had the ability and the will to do it on their own.
So you agree anthropogenic global warming ought to be a concern, but you just don’t think government has a role in addressing it?
I think developing alternative energy is natural evolution. We’re going to do it for efficiency’s sake, not because government says we should.
Government is not the cure all for everything. Henry Ford didn’t ask the government to set up his assembly line for him. Alexander Bell didn’t wait for a law to say he should call his assistant in the next room.
Government is a solution waiting for a problem. They usually have to create the problem so they can be relevant. I actually think that’s what they’re doing with MMGW.
Factually, Google is still using fossil fuels. The theory that feel good thoughts or actions negate that use, is bs.
“Why is it a good thing for Google to have gone carbon free if AGW theory is complete bunk?”
Because practical conservation of our resources is a good thing. People don’t have to be enviro-nazis or hair on fire doomers to support that.
I generally discount PR claims that involve carbon offsets like this on the grounds that they are hard to verify. As per my earlier example, if Google reduces global carbon use by 100 GJ and Google’s total energy expenditures are 100 GJ, then theoretically Google is 100% carbon free. Generally speaking, Sam cannot claim to be carbon-free because even though he isn’t currently getting any energy from fossil fuel, his use of renewables is conditioned on Google’s financial support.
I think developing alternative energy is natural evolution.
Because practical conservation of our resources is a good thing.
If AGW is bunk, developing alternative energy is NOT a natural evolution. Instead, we’d probably be developing ways to convert coal into gasoline instead of chasing solar or wind energy.
What’s the point of converting coal to gasoline if oil is more economical. Are you saying to do it for the sake of doing it? It seems that is what MMGW advocates are saying. They’re just concocting scare tactics to justify their position.
Which selling point would convince you to buy my product:
1.) Your coffee pot is an accident waiting to happen. Imagine your coffee pot suddenly erupting in a spray of boiling water, scalding your children and leaving them scarred for life!
2.) My new coffee pot is a revolutionary system of new, highly efficient technology, that is safe, more efficient, and cleaner than your old coffee pot. It’s new design uses less energy than your old coffee pot and delivers a cleaner, fresher tasting cup of coffee with no waste at a comparable cost!
Notice #1 has no alternative? It’s selling point is fear and danger.
#2 is offering an alternative that is better than the previous coffee pot. It offers benefits the other doesn’t.
Which sales pitch would you prefer to be subjected to day after day, year after year?
Converting from coal to natural gas is a natural evolution. Replacing standard furnaces to High Efficiency Furnaces are a natural evolution. Using 4 in. insulation to replace 2 in. insulation is a natural evolution.
Abandoning coal fired power plants in favor of unreliable wind and solar generated energy is a step in the wrong direction. It is devolution.
Offsets are nothing more than an attempt to use ones non-use of of fossil fuels to justify the use of fossil fuels of another. The ideal is dang near impossible to verify and is open to abuse.
The offsets are a scam.
If conservation of natural resources is the goal, then the gradual development of alternative energy is the only answer. You don’t have to scare people with theories of rising tides, drowning polar bears and cow farts, either.
What’s the point of converting coal to gasoline if oil is more economical
The point is that oil will cease to be economical once it becomes scarcer than it already is.
Which sales pitch would you prefer to be subjected to day after day, year after year?
It’s quite possible that supporters of AGW theory aren’t doing a good job marketing their ideas. But that doesn’t make the underlying theory wrong. The old coffee pot is still dangerous and needs to be replaced pronto. Also, the proposed replacements (wind, solar, nuclear, etc…) don’t really have the benefits listed in number two. They don’t make better tasting coffee and they don’t necessarily mean you use less energy either. It’s all about avoiding the risks involved with the old coffee pot.
Abandoning coal fired power plants in favor of unreliable wind and solar generated energy is a step in the wrong direction. It is devolution.
So, why did you applaud Google?
Offsets are nothing more than an attempt to use ones non-use of of fossil fuels to justify the use of fossil fuels of another.
And if the first party’s non-use is due entirely due to the financial support of the second party, then the second party gets to take credit for the non-use.
The ideal is dang near impossible to verify and is open to abuse.
This is my criticism of offsets as well. While they are a nice idea in theory, the difficulty of verification makes me very skeptical of any claim that invokes them. It is very easy to abuse offsets in order to increase the global carbon footprint.
The offsets are a scam.
Until we know whether or not “Sam” actually changed his energy procurements in response to Google’s spending we do not know if it was a scam or not. There is simply no way to easily verify whether it is truth or scam.
If conservation of natural resources is the goal
If AGW were untrue, then conservation of natural resources would not be a goal. We have enough proven coal reserves to power our economy for well over a century and our focus should be on doing whatever we can to increase those reserves.
“Please don’t waste my time with your stupid strawman arguments.”
Wonder why Warren doesn’t respond this way to Stephen when he writes about weather vs climate.
Good grief Warren, your too smart to compare Global Warming with air quality.
Like I said, if they’re doing it on their own, spending their own money, without government mandates and subsidies, then I applaud them for the effort.
I have also spent money in an effort to generate solar power for my home. It’s meager and provides nowhere near the amount of electricity I need on a day-to-day basis, but I have a fully charged 12 volt battery and a 50 watt bulb to read by while I wait for electricity to be restored after storms. I could also run my refrigerator off of it if I needed to.
The point is I did it on my own accord. I wasn’t forced to do it because of artificial price increases or shortages. I saw a benefit and attempted to take advantage of it.
There is talk of a “smart grid” limiting the amount of electricity a home should receive. Is it the electric company’s responsibility to determine how much electricity an individual household is allowed to use?
Because there would be no point to accusing me of strawman argument for the weather vs. climate distinction.
Weather is, “The high will be 38 degrees F with a 0 percent chance of rain in Seattle.”
Climate is, to quote Wikipedia, “Seattle’s climate is classified as oceanic or temperate marine, with cool, wet winters and mild, relatively dry summers.  The city and environs are part of USDA hardiness zone 8b, with isolated coastal pockets falling under 9a.” To the side, you’ll see thirty year averages of temperature and precipitation.
Or to be more specific today, the lowest low recorded has been 7 degrees F, and the highest high 63 degrees F. The average within that range for today for the last few decades has been 48 degrees, the average low 37 degrees. Average precipitation is about 17 hundredths of an inch.
Because of where Seattle is, and how the climate typically operates, it tends towards certain weather. It’s not recently had temperatures like you might see in Minneapolis, with a record low of -12 and a record high of 50, the average high 29, the average low 14 degrees.
Sitting here in Houston, I can tell you that Minneapolis’ average high is our record low. Our record high for today is 83. We tend to go between 49 and 69, on average.
That’s climate for you. Weather can occasionally go berserk in one direction or another, but you’ll see most years fall within those ranges, of temperature, precipitation, winds, etc. Climate is what you can typically expect of an environment.
This is helpful to us, because modelling weather is far more uncertain. When you’re trying to nail down a particular temperature rather than a particular range of temperatures, an average rainfall rather than a definite chance of actual rainfall, your forecast isn’t allowed to be so generalized.
The question becomes, “what happens to these different places if the weather we can tend to expect there changes?” This is not an easy question to answer, which is why I hate all this glibness on the subject by the right wing climate deniers. What changes climate in one place, changes it in another. Look at the Sahara. There are paintings of swimmers in caves deep in the Libyan desert. The winds in the Sahara dry the place out, remove moisture that this Mediterranean bordering desert might otherwise keep. The dessication of the Sahara took no more than 200 years, turning it from a grassland, into a wasteland.
For some cities, it might be a problem of too little rain, forcing them to seek water from somewhere else. For others, it might be a problem of too much rain, flooding local waterways, overwhelming drainage systems designed for much lighter precipitation. California’s drought problems are worsened by the fact that critical snows in the mountains of the state aren’t falling, leaving waterways that depend on them lacking for the water supply it creates.
Another issue is that weather is getting more chaotic. Strong differences between the heat of the tropics and the cold of the polar regions help drive strong jet streams at the boundaries of Earth’s atmospheric circulation patterns. The strength of those winds help keep them circulating more tightly. The reduction of those differences weakens them, causes turbulence and dramatic shifts in the circulation. The jet streams push up and push down.
Or, to put it another way, both the unseasonable warmness we’ve had until recently, warm air pushing upwards into higher latitudes, and these polar vortices that also push down into the lower latitudes, bringing unusual cold temperatures.
Another issue, you could say, is the capacity of air to carry moisture. Warmer temperature means that the air both takes more moisture up before it creates rainfall, and lays down more rain when it does condense out of the clouds. Rather than having a gentler continuum of rain and not rain, we get greater extremes of drought and torrential rainfall.
So, that is the issue of Global Climate change. You’re not just asking people to accept warmer temperatures. You’re asking them to accept a world that will seem alien to those of us who grew up in this day and age.
The sea level rises will be just another trouble on top of another. The key to understand here is that coastlines and the topography they depend upon are fractal. The waters, as they rise, are going to swallow a lot of real estate we’re currently using rather intensely. That’s a long term cost for our civilization. Relocating Ports, relocating chemical plants, relocating residential housing… It’s a huge economic waste combined with a big price tag for new building. And that’s before you count the unforseeable costs of the shifts in farmland, in arability. Even if new farmland becomes available because of this, you’ll have to reorient your food supply chain to take advantage of it, and there’s no certainty that anything that starts out promising will remain so.
Long story short? If you really care about preserving the status quo, you need to fight climate change, because the disruption involved will kill the world we know and understand dead. It’s done it plenty of other times in world history. We have no reason to believe we’re immune.
“…the disruption involved will kill the world we know and understand dead. It’s done it plenty of other times in world history. We have no reason to believe we’re immune.”
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2016 4:11 PM
Not to be picky Stephen but…if the world died plenty of times, how did it become alive again?
Let’s suppose that somehow all the nations of the world cooperate and we reduce carbon emission to levels called for by the UN.
Provide us with the scientific consensus that agrees there will be no further global warming or cooling.
if the world died plenty of times, how did it become alive again?
I think Stephen is referring to the numerous extinction events throughout geologic history. I would consider it alarmist for someone to compare AGW with those events. In order for AGW, something really screwy has got to happen beyond the already catastrophic scenario whereby sea levels rise by 100m or the AMOC shuts down.
there will be no further global warming or cooling.
The consensus actually says the opposite. There will always be global warming or cooling as a result of natural processes. However, those processes operate at such long time scales that we do not need to worry about them right now.
Royal Flush, if we gave the MMGW crowd all the taxes they wanted they would employ the “we saved millions of lives” chant the same way the stimulus “saved millions of jobs”.
They couldn’t prove the taxes saved those lives. They couldn’t prove the lack of taxes results in loss of lives.
There’s really no way to argue with fantasy. Why bother?
The best thing we could do is what we’re starting to do now. We should simply let them prattle on, let them call us names, and not give them anything.
They couldn’t prove the taxes saved those lives.
Sometimes things are true even when they aren’t proven. How many times have people defended the necessity of a truly hegemonic military capable of waging war against two enemies at once?
Didn’t we do that in WWII?
But was it really necessary? I think it was, but I cannot “prove” it.
We just has an anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Perhaps you should ask the remaining survivors of that attack while their still around whether they can “prove” it.
“If AGW were untrue, then conservation of natural resources would not be a goal.”
Have to disagree, Warren. The conservation and technological weening from finite resources must be a goal whether AGW is true or untrue.
I’m sure those Pearl Harbor survivors would make the same emotional appeal that a Bengalí rice farmer would make regarding anthropogenic global warming. But neither “proves” anything because we can never wind back the clock and explore every counterfactual in detail.
The conservation and technological weening from finite resources must be a goal whether AGW is true or untrue.
It’s as much a goal as breathing is a goal. The free market already has mechanisms to ensure that we’ll never run out of oil.
I’m not talking an extinction level event, necessarily. What I am talking about is the possibility of an event that disrupts things politically, undermines the strength of world government, destabilizes the relationships of power, etc. When I talk about killing the world we know dead, I’m talking about the American way of life as we know it now. Our prosperity, our ease of life, our prominence on the world stage, etc.
Look, even if we experience gradual sea-level rises as predicted towards the next hundred years, under the really bad scenarios, that’s ten feet worth of rise at least. That wipes out quite a bit of coastal real estate in a nation that is largely coastal. That’s replacing industrial facilities, port facilities… that’s different places now vulnerable to storm surge or tidal inundation that once were protected from that. That’s the subtle but steep price of climate change.
We underestimate the costs because we’re focused on life-threatening events. Trick is, climate change doesn’t have to kill us to cause us harm. If the consequences break our prosperity, undermine our ability to grow food, we could join the long list of civilizations undone by climate events, both in the New World and the Old. Hell, look at the havoc that the dust bowl wrought on us during the great depression, the displacement and deprivation.
Natural events are hard enough to deal with without the even more profound event we’re inflicting on ourselves now.
So, to your question… Well, let’s first establish why it’s the wrong question: no system, with or without natural influences, could ever be said to be unchanging. But then, that’s sort of like saying that walking into a wall and having a bus hit you and smash you into the wall are both examples of forward momentum.
When we were filling the skies with soot and ash, temperatures actually went down a little bit. When a volcano fills the sky with the same, the temperatures do the same. Nature simply unfolds its laws, like it always does.
When we ride a snowmobile up a slope, and start an avalanche, nature doesn’t do a check and see whether the disruption of the snowpack was natural or artificial. The snow simply obeys the laws that govern the molecular bonds of snow and ice, and of course the law of gravity. Once unleashed, the reality of thermodynamics means you can’t put the snow back like it was. Some things, once you break them loose, take on a life of their own.
When we take too much water out of a river, it dwindles to a trickle. That it’s not some natural channel doing the job of stealing water away is irrelevant. If the water isn’t there, it isn’t there.
You’re imagining this is something we can stop on a dime. It isn’t. We have control of one thing here: those gigatons of carbon we’re putting out. We’ve already started the avalanche on a considerable amount of warming, warmth that’s become sunk into the oceans. We’re sinking in more now as we speak. That flow is going to take some time to come back to haunt us, decades perhaps. Question is, how much more warming are we going to put in the account. We keep going, and this won’t stop until a huge fraction of every city we identify with modern Western Civilization is submerged, including my own. Those ice sheets completely melt, and you won’t recognize the way this country looks.
How much of a crappy legacy do we have to hand our children just so a few idiots can live their lives in luxury? Let them figure out other ways to make money. Let us quit busting up the next generation’s inheritance.
Let us quit busting up the next generation’s inheritance.
Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 12, 2016 2:43 PM
Too late Pal. Have you noticed our national debt?
I’ve noticed that some peole sprinkle pixie dust (which is to say, very masculine pixie dust) over defense spending, which magically makes it invisible. Then, when asking why revenues are down, they similarly do a remarkable acting job of completely ignoring all the money they’re giving back.
Then, magically enough, SSI and Medicare spending, plus all the other liberal spending items suddenly become the whole reason we have a deficit. Particularly anti-poverty programs.
It’s a tiresome fraud. Truth is, you don’t want a balanced budget. If you did, taxes would be on the table. You know there are certain programs you can’t put on the chopping block. So, rather than be honest with everybody, you force deficits which you then use as leverage to achieve your small government aims. There’s even a nice name for it: Starve the beast.
But you can’t starve it completely, so you come up with a politically correct (for the GOP) spending target that you can rationalize: defense spending.
In the process, though, you’ve made a white elephant (hey, this isn’t racial) of our Defense department, allowing so much damn waste and over-spending its not funny. For it, we get advanced battleship guns whose ammunition we can’t afford, Fighter jets that can do every previous generation fighters job in one aircraft. Badly. We also get jobs that soldiers could be trained to do, or which soldiers should be doing shunted to outside contractors so we can look like we’re saving money and improving outcomes when we’re doing neither.
It’s time to end the charade. You can’t get a resolved deficit for free. There will be no magic solution in the calculus of government spending, only the reconciliation of how much we spend with how much we pay for it. The Democrats have managed to reduce deficits each time they’ve been in office as of late, while your people blow them up. I expect Trump to increase the deficit. Republicans talk a great game on fiscal matters, but that’s sadly all they do, and my generation will literally pay the cost of indulging the greed of the 1%.