Google currently uses clean energy to power over 34 percent of their operations – and they just announced plans to purchase an additional 240 megawatts of renewable energy from the Happy Hereford Wind Farm in Amarillo, Texas. This brings the internet giant’s total wind power portfolio to more than 570 megawatts, which is enough energy to power approximately 170,000 U.S. households!
While many other companies might make big claims about green initiatives and sustainability, Google is well on the way to its ambitious goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy sources. The company recently expanded its experimental branch Google X by purchasing airborne wind turbine manufacturer Makani Power, and its other renewable energy investments include solar power in South Africa, a superhighway in the Atlantic for clean energy transmission, and photovoltaic panels in Germany.
While there is no doubt the company is well-intentioned, the way in which Google will actually reduce its carbon footprint isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Similar to previous agreements in Iowa and Oklahoma, and due to the current structure of the market, they can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly. However the amount of renewable added to the grid will offset the carbon footprint of the energy that the company actually uses. After purchasing the renewable energy, the company will retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. Any additional RECs produced under the agreement can also be used to reduce their carbon footprint elsewhere.
Even though the Happy Hereford Wind Farm hasn’t been finished yet, Google will become the proud owner of 240 megawatts of renewable energy once Chermac Energy has completed construction in late 2014.
Images by Valard LP