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Google wants Asia to get serious about renewable energy

1st November 2017

Google uses more electricity than the city of San Francisco and its energy demands are growing by 20 per cent a year. The tech giant is aiming to be completely powered by renewables in 2017, and wants Asian policymakers to make it easier for companies to buy clean energy.

As the world’s largest technology company with a near monopoly over how we search the internet, Google is no stranger to criticism for everything from denying us choice online to invading our privacy.

But in recent years the company have been trying to use its immense economic clout and huge share of the computing market for good. Or, as its corporate slogan urges, ‘Do the right thing. Don’t be evil.’

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One area where the US$90 billion tech giant has devoted much time and resources to doing good is the environmental footprint of its operations.

Moving IT functions such as email out of dusty office server rooms and into the cloud can dramatically reduce the footprint of computing, as there is no longer the need for businesses to operate their own servers. Google argues in a study named It’s cooler in the cloud that using its cloud-based email service Gmail instead of an inhouse email system is up to 80 times less polluting.

Google’s own footprint is also a super-sized challenge for the company. Google’s servers, which power about 3.5 billion searches a day and billions more video streams and social media accounts, are responsible for an estimated 2 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and its energy demand is growing by 20 per cent a year. The California-based firm wants to rein in its monster footprint, and the man to do it is the global director of data center energy and location strategy Gary Demasi, who led Google’s delegation at the Paris climate talks in 2015.

Gary Demasi at the Asia Clean Energy Summit 2017
Demasi, who has been with Google for the last 12 years, is in charge of Google’s vast army of data centres, which are responsible for most of the company’s emissions. Though Google has been carbon neutral since 2007, it wants to go a step further by cutting fossil fuels out of its energy supply altogether and becoming 100 per cent renewable-powered.

This year is Google’s deadline for becoming fully renewable-dependent, Demasi told Eco-Business on the sidelines of the Asia Clean Energy Summit on 24 October.

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