Sep 19, 2019

Google claims largest-ever corporate renewable power buy

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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Massive companies' green commitments can't save the planet

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

Amazon unveiled sweeping new energy and climate plans yesterday, and hours later, Google announced its biggest renewable power buys ever.

Why it matters: While the announcements by 2 of the world's biggest companies are stark signs that corporate giants are getting more aggressive about climate change, corporate commitments won't change the underlying trend of global carbon emissions on track to bring warming that blows past the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

How I am trying to get greener and cheaper electricity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A growing chorus of companies mostly unknown to the wider public is seeking to convince people you don’t need solar panels on your roof to go green.

The intrigue: Instead of writing about this from afar, I’m experiencing it firsthand and sharing my experience. I have signed up with Arcadia Power, a DC-based startup founded in 2014 that’s leading this sector with a digital focus.

Go deeperArrowOct 7, 2019

American farmers are pivoting to solar power to pay the bills

Solar panels near a dairy farm in Vermont. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

U.S. farmers are increasingly installing solar panels to help make ends meet, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The effects of the U.S.-China trade war and record spring rainfalls across the center of the country left many farmers unable to fully plant their crops, requiring them to find new sources of income.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019