Sep 19, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Google claims largest-ever corporate renewable power buy

Google campus

Google campus in Mountain View, California. Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Google on Thursday announced a 1.6 gigawatt package of renewable power deals in the U.S., South America and Europe that the tech behemoth is calling the "biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history."

Why it matters: The announcement signals how buys from large companies, including several tech giants, are becoming an increasingly important driver of solar and wind power growth. It also arrives the same day that Amazon vowed to power its facilities and operations with 100% renewables by 2030 as part of wider new climate pledges.

The big picture: The growth of corporate solar and wind purchasing is driven by falling power costs and pressure on companies — especially huge power-users — to be more climate-friendly.

  • Another data point: This week, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in a report that offsite corporate procurement is the "main driver" of 17% of U.S. utility-scale solar projects announced this year.

What they're saying: Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that the 18 separate deals will boost their worldwide wind and solar portfolio to nearly 5.5 gigwatts — "equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops."

  • Pichai said the package meets their "additionality" criteria, which requires purchase commitments that actually spur construction of new renewable power projects.

But, but, but: Big tech players, while boosting renewables buys, face criticism from activists over their cloud, AI and other business lines tailored specifically to oil industry clients.

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