Google’s jaw-dropping renewable procurement proclamation

Googleplex

Google just declared a record in corporate renewables by announcing the largest procurement deal. 

The tech giant Thursday revealed it would purchase a 1.6-gigawatt package of agreements, including 18 new wind and solar deals across the globe. Of the total, 720 megawatts will come from projects in the United States, including new solar farms in North Carolina (155 MW), South Carolina (75 MW) and Texas (490 MW).

This one agreement increases the company’s total renewable procurement by 40 percent to 5.5 GW — enough generation capacity to produce more electricity than what’s required by Lithuania or Uruguay, the company said in a blog post from CEO Sundar Pichai. Google, like many corporates, supports a goal to power the entirety of its operations using renewable energy, a constantly moving target.

The diversity of resources used in the procurement deal is also notable. Google owns more renewable capacity in wind than solar. 

"Up to now, most of our 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," Pichai said in his blog. 

Another notable shift is that the latest announcement reflects a diversification of resources and locations, a trend also evident in other recent deals. Earlier this year, Starbucks announced a three-project aggregation deal with a collective capacity of 146 MW, which the company said reduced risk by diversifying location and resource. Last quarter, Ball, Target and Amazon Web Services used a similar diversification technique. 

With the falling price of renewables and the rise of corporate clean energy commitments, corporate renewable procurements have become more frequent and larger in the past five years. Last quarter was record-breaking with a combined total of 2.8 GW and 490 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of capacity added to corporate energy profiles. 

Even with the size of projects increasing, Google’s new procurement announcement shatters the curve. Its one announcement is close to all of 2019 Q1 renewable procurements, which came in at 756.5 MW. 

In addition to the procurement deal, Google announced two grants, totaling more than $1 million, to organizations working to spur on the growth of corporate renewable energy procurements. That money went to Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) in the United States and RE-Source in Europe. 

The announcement comes on the eve of the Global Climate Strike, where employees plan to walk out of their places of work demanding their employers do more to curb climate change. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced a Climate Pledge, stepping up the company’s renewables commitment and vowing to transition to zero emissions by 2030.