Alphabet becomes biggest renewable energy buyer in U.S.
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Alphabet becomes biggest renewable energy buyer in U.S.

Internet giant Alphabet, the company behind Google, YouTube, and others, has become the U.S.’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy. Last year, the company bought enough to power all of its data centers and global operations – a move which resulted in more than $3 billion of investment in wind and solar farms globally, according to Google’s head of energy strategy Neha Palmer.

Alphabet’s share price is up by 22% over the past 12 months

graph 0905 alphabet

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Palmer was eager to highlight the declining costs of wind and solar farms, and said: “Investing in renewables makes sense for our business. These are long-term transactions with fixed prices . . . the prices in some markets are competitive or even lower than conventional power.”

Alphabet pledged to get its cloud computing business 50% matched by renewable energy in 2017, but this poses a challenge for the company – as well as others in the cloud computing business with similarly green aspirations. In short, cloud computing is growing at such a staggering pace that it’s difficult for renewables to keep up. The industrial-scale cooling demands at data centers that this leads to will require more investment in green energy in the near term.

Palmer says that Google’s energy demand has grown by “double digits” every year for the last six years (when she joined the company). She also said this trend is likely to continue. The actual energy it uses can’t all come directly from renewable sources (as data centers are connected to the electricity grid) – therefore, the company uses a matching scheme to buy an equal amount of energy, and sell on what it doesn’t use to local markets.

Having hit its 100% renewables matching target, Palmer says Alphabet’s next goal will be to increase the amount of renewable energy directly consumed in data centers.


Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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