Google Reaches 66% Carbon-Free Energy, but Hits Renewable Energy Supply Headwinds
Google announced today the release of an update on its progress towards achieving its target of reaching 100% carbon free energy (CFE) by 2030, indicating that in 2021, 66% of energy use was in line with this target.
Operating on 24/7 CFE means matching electricity demand with CFE supply every hour of every day, in every region where the company operates. The CFE% measures the degree to which Google’s electricity consumption on a regional grid is matched with CFE on an hourly basis. This is calculated using CFE under contract by Google, as well as from the overall grid mix.
The report indicates that while Google has been increasing its carbon free energy coverage over time, with 2021’s level representing an increase of 5% over 2019, the progress is not linear, as the level actually declined 1% from 2020.
According to Google, in some regions the company experienced significant headwinds, including lack of available renewable energy and delays to CFE construction caused by supply chain disruptions and interconnection challenges. Google also experienced flat or declining CFE percentages on the majority of the grids where it operates.
To pursue its goal of operating on 24/7 CFE by 2030, the company stated that it is working on new approaches to buy diverse portfolios of carbon-free energy, projects to advance next-generation technologies like geothermal and batteries, and a carbon-intelligent computing platform to maximize the reduction in grid-level CO2 emissions, among others.
In a blog post announcing the progress update on its progress, Amanda Peterson Corio, Global Head of Data Center Energy at Google, said:
“Getting to 24/7 CFE won’t be easy, but we’re optimistic for the future. Our CFE goal is part of our third decade of climate action and company goal of reaching net-zero emissions across our operations and value chain, including our consumer hardware products, by 2030. We aim to reduce the majority of our emissions (versus our 2019 baseline) before 2030, and plan to invest in carbon removal solutions to neutralize our remaining emissions.”