Google says it will hit 100% renewable energy by 2017

Green energy projects for data centers and other facilities are goals for a lot of tech companies, but one of the largest – Google – now says it’s going to tip the scale at 100% renewable energy powering its entire global operations by 2017. Google notes this will include both its data centers and its corporate offices.

How’d it get here? Google kicked off its large-scale direct investments in renewable energy beginning in 2010, with the acquisition of the entirety of the power generated by a 114-megawatt Iowa wind farm. Now, Google claims the title of the “world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power,” with renewable purchasing on a scale that’s more than twice as large as its next closest competitor, Amazon.

While it’s not quite there, Google says it will cross the 100% mark next year due to its commitments to purchase enough direct wind and solar-sourced power to match its annual consumption for the year. Google isn’t being solely charitable with this drive to adopt green power, either; it notes in a blog post that solar, wind and renewables as a general category is becoming the cheapest source of power around, meaning that as its data center operation costs grow with an increasing investment in cloud-based services, it makes the most fiscal sense for Google to continue to invest in creating new renewable sources to help meet its growing demand.

That’s why the company says it’s not going to stop its investments in renewable power generation project development once it crosses the 100% mark; they’re not treating it as a finish line, in other words, and are instead looking to further diversify their power sources so they’re not so reliant on wind, for instance; plus, Google still sources a lot of its power from renewable energy credits, which means it may actually be getting power directly from non-renewable sources in some areas, but it’s paying for enough generation in other locations with renewable sources that it’s getting credit for excess production that’s going back into the grid for other consumers.

Google is also releasing its first comprehensive environmental report (embedded below) alongside today’s announcement, which details its efforts to minimize its environmental footprint, and also includes information about other green initiatives at the company. There’s also a new environmental website that will collect hat kind of info on an ongoing basis.

Other tech giants have made similar claims and set similar goals, including Apple, which announced in September that it’s joining the RE100 global initiative which comes with a goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy sourcing. Apple has also previously claimed a 93 percent renewable energy use rate for its global operations, and also said that its organizations in the U.S., China and 21 additional companies are already at 100 percent renewable power.