One of the ways we support the development of new technologies is by piloting them on our own turf—putting our campuses on the cutting edge of renewable energy use. We’ve tried new renewable energy options that help our operations run more efficiently while helping these technologies evolve and scale more rapidly.
In addition to our 1.9 MW solar array, we've incorporated other forms of renewable energy into our corporate campuses. This includes running a 970 kW cogeneration unit off our local landfill gas, which not only removes the methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, but converts it into electricity and heat that we use on campus. We've also installed an efficient ground source heat pump and deployed solar water heating on our office buildings in Mountain View, Hyderabad, and Tel Aviv.
In other words, we are confident that the technology will deliver a return on investment (ROI) in a reasonable period of time. For example, the 1.7 MW solar installation we implemented in 2007 produces over 3,000,000 kWh of clean energy per year, saving us a great deal in energy costs and reducing our carbon footprint.
We believe that by putting our dollars and resources behind a promising new technology—or allowing companies to use our campus as a testing ground—the technology will have a better chance of making it to market and scaling. For example, in 2007, we hosted the first installation of a promising new fuel cell technology that has the potential to use biogas. The company, also based in the Bay Area, was able to more quickly evolve the technology by having a working real-world pilot nearby.
Google’s goal is 100% renewable power, and to date we’ve signed 16 contracts to purchase over 2.2 gigawatts of clean energy – equivalent to taking over 1 million cars off the road and making us the largest non-utility purchaser of renewable energy in the world. To achieve our goal, we’re buying clean electricity directly from wind and solar farms around the world through Power Purchase Agreements (or PPAs), and we’re additionally working with our utility partners to make more renewable energy available to us and others through renewable energy tariffs and bilateral contracts. For more details, see our white papers on PPAs and renewable energy tariffs, which provide a publicly available blueprint that other companies and utilities can use to green their operations and grids.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards when purchasing clean power. First, our contracts must create new sources of green power on the grid. Second, we purchase renewable energy in the same grid regions from which we’re withdrawing power. And third, we purchase “bundled” energy and RECs, meaning the same quantity of energy and RECs at the same time.
Here are our renewable energy purchase commitments to date: