Google unveils $150m investment to power manufacturing with renewables

Google has committed to invest $150m (£118m) in helping its key manufacturers to source renewable power, and to help the regions in which they operate decarbonise their electricity grids.

Google unveils $150m investment to power manufacturing with renewables

The move from Google builds on its initial sustainability commitments on hardware

The funding will be used to support the creation of new renewable energy generation capacity – either in the form of new wind or solar plants or in extensions to existing arrays – in regions which Google believes are “key” to its manufacturing operations.

Google produces most of its hardware product portfolio in the US.

The tech giant predicts that its initial investment will catalyse around $1.5bn of investment in renewables globally. This level of funding, it claims, could generate renewable energy equivalent to the amount it consumes across its global manufacturing operations.

“It’s not just about what products we build, but how we build them; when designing Google hardware like the Nest Mini or Wifi, we’re always thinking about how to create products that leave people, the planet and our communities better than we found them,” Google’s head of sustainability for consumer hardware, Anna Meegan, said.

“We want to work toward a world where everyone has access to renewable energy, including our suppliers and their communities.”

Holistic hard line – or just hardware?

The move from Google builds on its initial sustainability commitments on hardware, which were made earlier this year.

These include pledges to ensure that all ‘Made By Google’ products will include some proportion of recycled materials by 2022 and to make all customer shipments carbon-neutral by 2020, through the use of carbon reduction and offsetting.

On the latter, Google recently made its biggest renewable energy purchase to date, signing a package of 18 clean power deals.

While this announcement was originally received positively across much of the global green economy, Google was then found to have made large financial donations to climate change deniers in an exposé led by The Guardian.

As part of its investigative series on climate inaction, called ‘The Polluters”, the paper found that Google had made donations to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a policy group known for convincing the Trump Administration to pull out of the Paris Agreement, and had accepted a sponsorship deal with the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN supports the Heartland Institute, a conservative group which states on its website that “there is no climate crisis”.

Google justified these decisions by explaining that it selects organisations to collaborate with based on their advocacy for “strong technology policies”.

Mission Possible: Achieving a net-zero carbon future for manufacturing

As the movement towards net-zero carbon takes hold across the commercial sector, edie has published a fresh insight report looking at how manufacturing companies are driving forward their own goals.

Produced in association with Centrica Business Solutions, the free, 19-page report explores what role sustainability and energy professionals within the UK’s largest manufacturers can play in achieving ‘net-zero carbon’ status for their businesses. Download the report here. 

Sarah George

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