This is not to say that Google computers will consume nothing but wind and solar power.
Minco: Last year, Google consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco. The online giant said on Tuesday that all of its data centres around the world will be entirely powered with renewable energy sources sometime next year.
This is not to say that Google computers will consume nothing but wind and solar power. Google gets electricity from a power company, which operates an energy grid supplied by hydroelectric dams, natural gas, coal and wind power. Over the last decade, Google has made deals with renewable producers, guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells. With those guarantees, companies can obtain bank financing to build more turbines.
The power created by the renewables is plugged into the utility grid, so that Google's usage presents no net consumption of fossil fuels and the pool of electricity gets a larger share of renewable sources. "We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy," said Joe Kava, Google's senior vice president of technical infrastructure. Unlike carbon-based power, Kava said, wind supply prices do not fluctuate. The more renewable energy it buys, the cheaper those sources get.
About 25% of US’s electricity goes to businesses, and companies like Google are now about 2 percentage points of that. Google operates eight businesses and runs on 13 data centres. The 5.7 terawatt-hours of electricity Google consumed in 2015 "is equal to output of two 500 megawatt coal plants," said Jonathan Koomey, a lecturer in Stanford. That is enough for two 140,000-person towns. "Every time you double production, you reduce the cost of solar by 20%. Wind goes down 10 to 12%," he said.
Critics note that while Google might be adding wind and solar to the power grid, it is still dependent on fossil fuels, since sun and wind power are intermittent. "They should connect the wind and solar panels directly to their centres," said Chris Warren of Institute for Energy Research. nyt news service.
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