Google is no stranger to big investments in renewable energy. From 240MW of wind energy in Texas to pumping significant cash into rooftop solar, the company that was once known for its search engine is positioning itself as a major player in the clean energy future. It's even flexed its political muscle on the subject too, teaming up with Facebook and Apple recently to tell NC lawmakers to keep their hands off the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards.
But even with these lofty precedents, the company's latest renewable energy announcements are noteworthy in terms of scale and ambition.
Timed to coincide with the Paris climate talks, the company has announced power-purchase agreements (PPAs) totaling 781MW of wind and solar power. As Bloomberg reports, the projects range from 61MW of solar in North Carolina to 400MW of wind energy in Oklahoma, and also includes agreements to purchase energy from a solar farm in Chile and a wind farm in Sweden.Taken together, the PPAs represent a near doubling of Google's renewable energy commitments,
As important as the sheer size of the purchases, however, are the signals they send out to power companies, investors and policy makers alike. Just like Unilever's decision to phase out coal and aim for 100% renewables, these big corporate announcements undermine the case for betting on fossil fuels. In North Carolina, for example, Google becomes the first corporate customer of Duke Energy's Green Source Rider program—an initiative designed to facilitate renewable energy purchases for large business customers. With such a high profile first customer, it seems likely that more businesses will follow.
Meanwhile, the number of gigantic corporations signing up to the awkwardly named American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge just got even bigger, with the White House announcing new commitments from 73 companies including Adobe, Amazon, 21st Century Fox (parent company of Fox News, btw) as well as Verizon, Volvo North America and even mining giant BHP Billiton. Not only are each of these companies announcing significant emissions cuts of their own. Equally as important, they are lending their voice to calls for a strong climate agreement in Paris.
Who says acting on climate change is anti-business?