Google has pledged to source renewable energy for its data centers and offices around the clock by 2030.
It currently sources 100 percent renewable energy for its facilities by purchasing the equivalent of the energy used in renewable power on an annual basis. But on an hour-by-hour basis, Google has to rely on fossil fuel sources when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing. This means that, on average, the company only runs directly on renewable power 65 percent of the time.
Because climate change is getting worse
"With the goal to reach 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030, we can demonstrate that a carbon-free economy is possible," Urs Hölzle, SVP of technical infrastructure, said.
"Our data centers are large power consumers, and if we can achieve 24/7 carbon-free energy for our data center fleet, economically, we can demonstrate that carbon-free electricity grids are within reach."
Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai called the move "our biggest sustainability moonshot yet, with enormous practical and technical complexity.
"We are the first major company that's set out to do this, and we aim to be the first to achieve it."
He said that currently 24/7 carbon-free electricity is mostly unachievable, but that trends in technology and the right government policies meant that it will soon be within reach.
"To get there, Google will invest in approaches that make it possible for us to source reliable carbon-free energy in all locations, at all times of day," Pichai said.
"We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together, and increasing our use of battery storage. And we’re working on ways to apply AI to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting. These efforts will help create 12,000 jobs by 2025."
Additionally, the company said that as of this week it had eliminated all its emissions before it became carbon neutral in 2007 through the purchase of carbon offsets. Those eight years of carbon debt are thought to be less than one year of Google's current emissions, due to its phenomenal growth.
It also planned to "enable" 5GW of new carbon-free energy across its key manufacturing regions by 2030 through investment, and help 500 cities and local governments globally reduce a total of 1 gigaton of carbon emissions annually by 2030 (Google will provide data aggregation tools and similar products, cities will still have to do the heavy lifting).