Google Eliminates Carbon Legacy, to be Carbon-Free by 2030

Posted on September 14, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 9 Comments

Google announced today that it has eliminated its entire carbon legacy and that its lifetime net carbon footprint is now zero. And by 2030, Google plans to run its business on carbon-free energy everywhere, and at all times.

“Sustainability has been a core value for us since Larry and Sergey founded Google two decades ago,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai writes in the announcement post. “We were the first major company to become carbon neutral in 2007. We were the first major company to match our energy use with 100 percent renewable energy in 2017. We operate the cleanest global cloud in the industry, and we’re the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy.”

But now Google is going even further: In addition to eliminating its entire carbon legacy, Google is the first major company to make a commitment to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy in all of its data centers and campuses worldwide. “This is far more challenging than the traditional approach of matching energy usage with renewable energy,” Pichai explains, “but we’re working to get this done by 2030.”

To achieve that goal, Google will invest in approaches that make it possible to source reliable carbon-free energy in all of its locations, at all times of day.

“We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together, and increasing our use of battery storage,” Pichai adds. “And we’re working on ways to apply AI to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting. These efforts will help create 12,000 jobs by 2025. Importantly, we think our work can accelerate the availability of clean energy in communities worldwide, and help to solve challenges that have held back its ability to become an around-the-clock source of energy.”

If you’re interested in these efforts, Google has published a whitepaper.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google Eliminates Carbon Legacy, to be Carbon-Free by 2030”

  1. crunchyfrog

    What a bunch of disingenuous nonsense-carbon offsets! So essentially if I put my trash in my neighbors trash can then effectively I'm making less trash when it gets collected?

    • nerdile

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      "Carbon neutrality" is when you dump all your trash in his bin, and then pay his trash bill. "100% Renewable Energy" is when you stop bringing things into your home that you plan to throw away, and the only waste you generate is compost, which you give your neighbor for his garden. "24/7 Carbon Free energy" is when your neighbor finally tells you that he didn't want any of your garbage in the first place and you can just deal with it yourself.

    • north of 49th

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      If I had to use the garbage analogy, I would say that Carbon Offset is like taking your trash to a landfill, removing a volume of recyclable trash someone dumped there equivalent to the volume you are dumping so that the landfill didn't change size. You would then recycle the removed trash to get to a net zero waste condition. What Google doesn't mention is where geographically the offset will occur.

    • wright_is

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      The Bastard Operator from Hell summed it up nicely:

      “Analogy-wise, paying someone in South America to grow trees so that I can burn trees is a bit like me paying someone in Uganda 10 quid to be good to someone else so that the PFY can punch you and the Boss here in the face.”

  2. a_lurker

    You cannot be carbon neutral until the entire electrical grid is carbon neutral. All they are doing is a version of Hollywood accounting.

  3. orbsitron

    Good on them. Not done yet, clearly but steps in the right direction.

  4. red.radar

    So instead of strip mining the world for coal we will do it for rare earths to make the batteries and equipment.

    my biggest concern is in 15 years we are going to have quite a few solar panels and other renewable infrastructure hitting the end of its usable life and needing to be disposed off. How do we recycle these things or just dispose of it in a safe manner.

    I don’t think they have the sustainability fully worked out but I will let them has this self congratulatory win at least the air is a little cleaner

  5. DaveMcLain

    This sounds like a lot of bull to me. What about the carbon from the creation of all of their equipment? Steel etc. What nonsense.

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