Google takes solar portfolio to 5.5GW with new purchase

Internet giant Google has announced a massive 1.6GW renewable energy buy-up, comprising 18 mostly solar off-take deals that will double the capacity of the company’s global solar portfolio to date and boost its entire renewable energy portfolio to 5.5GW.

The move, which Google itself described as “the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history,” was announced in a company blog post on Thursday, just as the first of the global climate strikes begin to take place in Australia and other Pacific nations.

It came as internet rival Amazon announced what it described as the biggest ever order for electric vehicles, via start-up Rivian, as part of plans to go zero carbon by 2040, in line with 1.5°C targets.

Google – already the world’s largest corporate investor in renewables – will tip more than $2 billion into the construction of new large-scale solar and wind farms.

Google said the investments – which span across the US, South America and Europe – included the purchase of energy from 720MW of new solar farms in North Carolina (155 MW), South Carolina (75 MW), and Texas (490 MW).

In South America, the company is adding another 125MW of hybrid renewables capacity to the grid to supply its data centre in Chile, however more details were yet to come about the Europe deals, with Pichai saying these would be announced soon.

“This purchase is made up of a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements and includes 18 new energy deals,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the blog.

“Together, these deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 per cent, to 5,500 MW—equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops.

“Once all these projects come online, our carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year.”

In the blog post, Pichai notes that this latest deal has seen the company shift its focus from large-scale wind to solar, thanks to the huge falls in cost of PV generation.

Swedish retail giant Ikea has also announced that its latest investments in two large solar plants in the US and a wind farm in Romania would take it past its goal of 100 per cent renewables, one year ahead of schedule.

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