Google Continues Its Investments in Renewable Energy

Although Google is a tech-company with huge, energy-intensive data-centers, they are also pretty clued in about sustainability. Through the years, they have been investing heavily in renewable energy technology, not only as part of their CSR but also because it makes business sense for them.

Last year, they released details about their carbon footprint and their report discussed their plans to make their data-centers more energy-efficient. Their focus on renewable energy is tremendous and although they are not directly involved, they have supported many projects through investments.

A few months ago, the company set up a $75 million fund that will be used to set up solar panels in 3,000 homes in California, Colorado and Arizona. Google also invested $168 million in Brightsource Energy’s project in the Mojave Desert.  Recently, they have announced a $94 million investment in a group of four solar projects by Recurrent Energy. With this latest announcement, Google’s investments in renewable energy totals almost $1 billion.

According to Google, “the energy produced by this project is already contracted for 20 years with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). SMUD recently created a feed-in tariff program (FIT) to help green the grid for Sacramento-area residents. We’re excited that these projects are the first to be built under the program.”

All the four projects combined will have a capacity of 88 megawatts and will provide electricity straight to the grid. They are estimated to have enough output to power about 13,000 US homes. Apart from solar energy, Google has also invested in wind farms. Last year, they invested $100m in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon which is due to be completed this year. When it opens, it will be the world’s largest producing 845MW with 338 wind turbines, each producing about 2.5MW of energy.

Google has also used its mapping technology to tap into the geothermal energy market. Through its philanthropic arm Google.org , Google has invested nearly $10.5 million into three projects researching advanced geothermal power. They have also helped to propel the Electric Ford Focus by purchasing the very first car on the market.

Google  announced in 2011 that they have been carbon neutral since 2007 and this is without ever releasing a CSR report. Their investments in the renewable energy sector supports their vision to become one of the greenest Fortune 500 companies around. In order for renewable energy to gain ground, private companies are as responsible for pushing innovation as government entities.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net