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Renewable energy, mostly wind, to power Google operations


Google announced last week that in 2017, renewable energy will power 100 percent of its global operations, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s blog, Into the Wind.

Nearly all of the renewable energy Google plans to purchase will come from wind power, which is good news for wind harvesting states like Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Iowa, where 94 percent of Google’s current renewable energy capacity, about 2.6 gigawatts, is already coming from.

In the announcement, Urs Holzle, senior vice president of Google’s technical infrastructure, said the estimated trillions of Google searches done each year, as well as the 400 or so uploads of YouTube videos done every minute, require a whole lot of processing power that he said makes electricity one of the company’s highest operating expenses.

Holzle noted that the cost of wind and solar energy over the past six years has come down 60 and 80 percent, respectively, making the alternative power sources low-cost options.

“Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy,” Holzle said.

Google isn’t the only tech giant to pledge use of wind energy. The Hutch News reported last month that Microsoft signed a 10-year-contract to purchase all 178 megawatts of wind power generated by the Bloom Wind Project being constructed 20 miles south of Dodge City, Kansas.

According to the AWEA blog, a growing number of companies are making significant investments in wind energy, including Wal-Mart and General Motors, which each have committed to 100 percent renewable energy targets.

As Holzle noted, “we began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change – but it also makes business sense.”