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Google is searching for a way to be zero emissions all the time

[Photo: Flickr user Mark Skipper]
Buying enough clean energy to make up for your dirty energy is one thing; using all clean energy 24/7 is another, and it could signal a new approach.

Our time to move away from dirty energy to green sources is limited. Federal governments can’t be relied upon to push the conversion–especially not the one in the U.S., which is actively working against large-scale adoption of green energy. Much of the progress we’ve seen so far has come from big corporate energy buyers demanding carbon-free power. There is an ecological motivation, but it’s also driven by a desire to get in on the falling cost and high cost predictability of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

The largest corporate buyers are big tech companies that rely heavily on global networks of large power-hungry data centers, storing and serving up most of the internet’s digital content: videos and movies, webpages, search results. No surprise: Google is a gigantic energy hog, but it’s also currently the world’s largest buyer of renewable energy, in its various forms—over 3 gigawatts—according to a March report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (This particular Fast Company article comes to you via a server hosted by Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud provider and No. 2 on Bloomberg’s list; Microsoft, Apple, and the U.S. Department of Defense round out the current top 5.) Continue reading “Google is searching for a way to be zero emissions all the time”