Google published its Environmental Report on July 24. The report tracks progress towards its sustainability targets for operations, covering carbon, water, resources, and nature, as well as biodiversity. It also highlights the significant progress the company has made in achieving 24/7 carbon-free operations.
On carbon, Google has confirmed a 10% reduction in emissions across all scopes despite continued business growth. Scope 3 emissions continue to account for the majority, which is 75% of its climate footprint. In comparison, Scope 1 emissions account for just 1%.
The remaining 24% is attributable to Google’s use of power, which is Scope 2. The company has matched 100% of its electricity consumption with renewable energy purchases since 2017 and continued to do so in 2022, according to the report.
To further cut down Scope 2 emissions, and help other energy users do the same, Google is aiming to run on 24/7 carbon-free energy on every grid where it operates by 2030. This will ensure that local grids are benefitting from additional renewables capacity, while overcoming problems of transparency and credibility that can result from the purchase of clean electricity certificates.
The report reveals that, in 2022, the average Google facility matched 64% of its energy consumption with renewable power generated either on-site or on the local grid. The proportion was highest in Finland, reaching 97%. Iowa, Denmark, and Chile also exceeded the 90% mark.
By contrast, it proved harder to procure energy in this way in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, where the proportion was lower than one-fifth.
The report notes: “Achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy is far more complex and technically challenging than annually matching our energy use with renewable energy purchases. No company of our size has achieved 24/7 CFE before, and there’s no playbook for making it happen. But we see our efforts as part of a bigger picture, and we’ve set this ambitious goal to help scale new, global solutions.”
It points out that disruption to renewable energy supply chains and delays to grid connections for large projects proved to be particularly challenging last year. Grid delays for Google were worst in the Asia-Pacific region and the eastern US.
To help speed things along, Google has piloted a new approach to managing power purchase agreement (PPA) negotiations. It will scale this up this year after trials confirmed the digital framework can decrease negotiation and execution times up to 80%.
Google is one of the world’s biggest corporate purchasers of renewable energy, second only to Amazon. Its experiences in this area have helped it to deliver impressive progress on the 24/7 clean energy target in less than three years.