Google has maintained a focus on carbon neutrality, becoming carbon neutral in 2007 and matching all of its electricity usage with clean energy purchases since 2017. Devices like Nest speakers and displays use recycled plastics in their manufacturing, and we continue to see Google strive for improvement in this area. At Google I/O 2021, the company announced more initiatives towards cleaner energy, with the aim of operating on carbon-free energy by the year 2030.
One of the ways Google aims to achieve its carbon-free effort is through the use of carbon-aware computing. The brand will use certain data centers for specific tasks depending on the availability of carbon-free energy sources. This means its data centers can take advantage of times and instances when carbon-free energy sources are more readily available, moving tasks so it can use more of the existing clean energy that’s already available. Google says it is going to start by applying this to media processing — YouTube, Photos, Drive, etc. All of this will be done in the background, so users will still be able to use their applications as usual.
Another way Google aims to achieve its carbon-free initiative is by taking advantage of geothermal energy. The search company announced a Geothermal Project to add carbon-free energy to the electric grid that serves its data center in Nevada, which includes its newer Las Vegas Cloud region. It aims to take advantage of “next-gen geothermal,” and its blog states that “by using advanced drilling, fiber-optic sensing, and analytics techniques, next-generation geothermal can unlock an entirely new class of resource.”
Google partnered with Fervo, a clean energy startup company, to enhance next-gen geothermal production, therefore making this form of clean energy more efficient to obtain since Geothermal energy production has traditionally been somewhat limited by cost and location issues in production. Google’s partnership with Fervo helps because Fervo can place fiber optic cables inside of wells to gather real-time data and find out how to obtain the best possible resources. Combine that with machine learning and A.I. (which Google specializes in), and this can potentially work wonders for Geothermal energy production.