Four years after Google shifted entirely to renewable energy, the company is working towards its next major sustainability goal. At I/O today, CEO Sundar Pichai explained Google’s plans to run its data centers and offices entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030.
Pichai called the effort a “moonshot,” noting that the company will have to source carbon-free energy at all of its locations, which might not be easy for facilities in remote areas. Five data centers currently run at or close to 90 percent carbon-free energy, including the latest location in Denmark. Google built five solar farms to help run that data center, augmenting the abundant wind-based power on the Danish grid.
Last year, Google switched on a carbon-intelligent computing platform, which moves compute tasks to other data centers based on when carbon-free energy sources like solar and wind are more widely available. More of those tasks might be scheduled during daylight hours, for instance. With the latest platform update, Google says it will shift a greater proportion of electricity use to where carbon-free energy sources are available. To begin with, the system will direct multimedia processing efforts (Photos and YouTube videos, for instance) to locations with the cleanest power grids as much as possible. A full list of Google’s 2030 commitment is available here.
Alphabet has also explored geothermal energy with Dandelion, a company that emerged from the X innovation lab. In 2020, Google said it had offset all of the carbon emissions it has ever generated.
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