In the past few years we've seen a race among the largest tech companies to amass renewable energy sources to power their services and facilities particularly because renewable sources have become far less expensive and, in some cases, the cheapest option. Google has outpaced its competitors though and has now hit a major milestone in its quest to power its operations with clean energy. The tech company has amassed enough renewable energy to meet all of its electricity needs throughout the world starting early next year.
Now, to be clear, that doesn't mean that Google will be able to use only renewable energy to power its offices and various data centers because the renewable energy sources are not equally distributed around the world where its facilities are, but it does mean that the amount of renewable energy it has purchased is equal to the electricity it uses.
Google says its 13 data centers and offices consume 5.7 terrawatt hours of electricity a year -- about the same as the city of San Francisco. Thanks to large power purchases in recent years like the 781 MW of wind and solar power it bought at this time last year, the company can now offset every megawatt hour of electricity they use from a fossil fuel power plant with an equal amount of clean energy produced by wind and solar farms.
Google has invested heavily in wind power. Of the company's renewable energy contracts, 95 percent are with wind power farms with the remaining five percent with solar power plants. Google uses the renewable energy it has purchased to power its operations whenever it can, but sells the rest to local electricity grids.
Greenpeace said that 20 other technology companies have pledged to purchase enough renewable energy to power their global operations, but so far Google is the only one to meet this goal. Apple is close behind with enough renewable energy to power 93 percent of its worldwide electricity demand.
Google has become the largest renewable energy purchaser in the world. The company said its next steps are to purchase more renewable energy in the places where its data centers are located, to purchase power from a variety of clean energy sources and to ultimately provide better access to renewable energy sources to everyone around the world.