Google aims to become 100% carbon-free energy by 2030 — here’s how it’s planning to do it

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Google aims to become 100% carbon-free energy by 2030 — here’s how it’s planning to do it
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  • Google aims to develop sustainable and energy-efficient data centres.
  • The company became carbon neutral in 2007.
  • Google emphasis on PUE and a clean global grid to become carbon-free by 2030.
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Google uses twice as much electricity as the city of San Francisco in its data centres. The amount of energy used by Google is increasing every day as its business grows and overall internet usage grows.

Since 2007, the company says it has been carbon neutral meaning, the company says it bought equal amounts of carbon offsets (through land restoration and planting trees) and used renewable energy to make the company’s net operating carbon emissions zero.

Following this from 2017, Google also claims to have matched its total electricity usage with renewable energy purchases. Over the years, the company has announced significant steps to use carbon-free energy but still, it operates with some power that emits carbon dioxide.
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Now, by 2030 Google aims to operate 24/7 electricity on carbon-free energy. Simplifying this, the company will operate every hour with carbon-free electricity. Sounds stressing? Let us tell you how.

Efficient data centres and power usage effectiveness (PUE)
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Google’s data centres are the most prominent source of energy consumption. In order to be carbon-free by 2030, data centres must use clean sources of energy and should be ultra-efficient.

Google says that they are the largest annual corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. But you must be thinking about why energy is so important for Google. Well, every Google search you do requires a tiny amount of energy used by the servers at Google data centres. With millions of searches per minute and trillions per year, it adds up to a whole lot of energy at data centres. Having efficient data centres around the world will help Google to use 100% carbon-free energy.

Google focuses on efficient data centres and power usage effectiveness (PUE) which is the ratio of energy used by a computer at data centres divided by the total energy used by the computing equipment. For example, 1 PUE means all of the energy goes to computing equipment and 2 PUE means if 1 unit of energy is used by computing equipment then 1 unit of energy will be used to cool the equipment.

The head of energy development for data centres at Google, Maud Texier says, “to manage PUE, the company is using a combination of hardware and software developments. We have invested in new raw materials for servers that emit less heat.” In addition, the company is also using a machine learning program developed by DeepMind. These machines predict the most efficient time to run the heat pumps to cool down data centres.

The most difficult challenge — a clean energy grid
Having an energy-efficient data centre is not enough, Google also focuses on how the energy is produced. Texier said, “if we have a clean grid then being 100% carbon-free will be easy for the company. If the grid is not clean in a location where the company wants to build a data centre, then there should be a path to make an impact and accelerate the regional grid’s transition.”
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She also added that Google uses certain algorithms to decide where to establish or execute computing functions for their data centres in order to achieve sustainability.

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