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Google is going green, promises to use 100% renewable energy by 2017

Ever wondered how much energy Google uses?

Think about it – the searches, the videos uploaded and downloaded on YouTube, the … cat pictures.

Well it’s a lot.

According to The New York Times, Google consumed as much energy as the entire city of San Francisco last year.

And in a statement yesterday, the search verb announced that in 2017 all of its data centres and offices will run on 100% renewable energy.

How? Well it’s not exactly as it sounds. Google isn’t strictly running on renewable energy and will still get its power from the grid.

What happens is this: Google approaches a wind or solar farm and buys their renewable power. By doing so it balances itself with the power it actually sucks from the grid.

Although this may seem kind of sudden, it has been in the pipeline for a while. Back in 2010, Google signed its first long-term agreement with a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa.

Since then it has quietly gone about purchasing more, and today it is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy.

In its official blog, Google stated that it has commitments to reaching 2.6 gigawatts, more than double the energy it took to send Marty McFly back to the future.

Since that first purchase in 2010, Google has picked up 19 more energy projects, investing more than $3.5 billion globally.

Doc and Marty from BTTF

100% renewable energy? Great Scott!

And while it didn’t quite cross the line this year, Google is confident that next year it will broaden its purchases enough to be totally carbon neutral.

Google notes that in the last six years, the cost of wind and solar have come down significantly; proving that future of renewables is bright.

Is that future bright in Australia, though? Well, that’s a different story.

If recent reports are any indication, Turnbull’s coalition government isn’t exactly the greenest bunch around.

If you want proof of that, watch this painful exchange between Australia’s Chief Scientist and a politician who (I assume) passed Year 10 Science.

In September of this year, following The Great SA Blackout, Turnbull described the outage as a “wake up call” for states imposing “ideological” renewable energy targets.

However, experts later insisted that there was no link between the blackout and renewable energy.

According to data from Climate Action Tracker, under present policy, Australia’s emissions are set to increase more than 21% above 2005 levels by 2030.

However, the Government appears to have a host of tricks that will allow it to meet its Kyoto Agreement requirements (without actually meeting them – ha, fooled ya Earth).

The sad part is Australia has almost unmatched potential for creating renewable energy. We may not have much water, but we are doing great in the sun and wind department.

In Australian politics (as we witnessed in America’s recent election), things often come down to a case of political football.

Issues get kicked around not because they matter, but because a certain party wants to remain in power. The NBN debacle comes to mind, and now climate change too.

The Australian Government hasn’t gone as far as Trump, who believes that climate change is a hoax “invented by the Chinese”.

But it does appear to be leaning that way. Maybe they should do some more research.

You know, Google it.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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