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Google to fully operate on renewables next year

Since 2010, the company has agreed to 20 PPAs and bought 2.6GW of wind and solar energy, amounting to $3.5bn of infrastructure investments.

Google’s head of technical infrastructure Urs Hölzle wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that the US tech company was on track to power all its office and data centre operations with solar and wind energy in 2017.

Already a leader among corporate buyers of renewables, Google is set to reach another level next year as it starts relying exclusively on clean energy for its global operations. Since 2010, the company has agreed to 20 power purchase agreements and purchased 2.6GW of wind and solar energy, amounting to $3.5 billion of infrastructure investments globally.

“We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly,” Hölzle wrote. “Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power.”

While electricity costs are one of Google’s largest operating expenses, he argued that the declining costs of wind and solar have made renewable generation an economically viable option.

“We believe the private sector, in partnership with policy leaders, must take bold steps and that we can do so in a way that leads to growth and opportunity,” Hölzle wrote.

One of Google’s more recent power-purchase agreements was sealed in July, when it agreed to buy 236MW of wind energy in Norway and Sweden from two projects financed by BlackRock and Ardian. That was Google’s seventh wind power deal to date.

Corporations using renewable energy sources to power their operations have mushroomed over the past few years. Google has been the largest investor so far, followed by Amazon with around 1GW of purchasing agreements. Amazon said on its website it expects to power around 50 percent of its operations with renewables in 2017.

The US Department of Defense, Microsoft and Facebook also are big renewables purchasers.