Last Friday, Septemeber, 20, Google announced its biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history. This purchase is made up of a 1,600-MW package of agreements and includes 18 new energy deals. Together, these deals will increase Google’s worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 percent, to 5,500 MW—equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops. Once all these projects come online, the company’s carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year.
These agreements will also spur the construction of more than $2 billion in new energy infrastructure, including millions of PV modules and hundreds of wind turbines spread across three continents. In all, Google’s renewable energy fleet now stands at 52 projects, driving more than $7 billion in new construction and thousands of related jobs.
To ensure maximum impact, all of these latest deals meet the rigorous “additionality” criteria Google sets out long ago for its energy purchases. This means not only buying power from existing wind and solar farms but instead making long-term purchase commitments that result in the development of new projects. Bringing incremental renewable energy to the grids where the company consumes energy is a critical component of pursuing 24×7 carbon-free energy for all of its operations.
These 18 new deals span the globe, and include investments in the U.S., Chile and Europe. In the U.S., Google will purchase energy from 720 MW of solar farms in North Carolina (155 MW), South Carolina (75 MW), and Texas (490 MW)—more than doubling the capacity of its global solar portfolio to date. In South America, Google is adding 125 MW of renewable energy capacity to the grid that supplies its data center in Chile. Finally, almost half (793 MW) of the new renewable energy capacity purchased will be located in Europe, specifically Finland (255 MW), Sweden (286 MW), Belgium (92 MW), and Denmark (160 MW).
These renewable energy purchases aren’t only notable for their size. Up to now, most of Google’s renewable energy purchases in the U.S. have been wind-driven, but the declining cost of solar (down more than 80 percent in the past decade) has made harnessing the sun increasingly cost-effective. Meanwhile, our Chile deal marks the first time Google will buy power in a hybrid technology deal that combines solar and wind.
Beyond its own operations, Google is working to make clean energy mainstream and break down the barriers for those who want to purchase renewable energy. So they announced two new grants from Google.org to provide further support for organizations that expand access to clean energy for all businesses: a $500,000 grant to Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) in the U.S. and a 500,000 euro grant to RE-Source in Europe. These grants will help fund the development of new purchasing models, provide training and resources for consumers, and enable more widespread access to clean power.