Google defeats Pentagon on green energy use

google-defeats-pentagon-green-energyThe Department of Defense, considered a goliath among energy consumers, is trailing tech giant Google in its consumption of electricity from wind and solar.

The Pentagon is numero dos when it comes to renewable energy, with Google being the top user of renewable electric power in the nation, according to analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Wind and solar energy made up the largest chunk of new power generators in 2015, although they make up less than 6 percent of total electricity generated in the U.S., according to government data.

The investment has as much to do with economics as it does with emission reductions and climate change.

The Pentagon, just like Google, is attracted to the long-term fixed rate contracts that wind farms provide to their buyers through power purchase agreements, which make renewables cost-competitive with fossil fuels such as coal.

Google wants that kind of certainty to help even out the cost of powering its growing fleet of data centers that need a constant supply of 24-hour, seven-day-a-week electricity. The Pentagon has similar needs as its fighters become more technologically advanced and dependent on electrically powered devices for logistics, surveillance and combat support.

“The Pentagon is finding that clean power is often just better, without even considering the climate benefits,” Bloomberg reported. “It helps the military execute its mission in big and small ways, like something as simple as lightening the load soldiers carry onto the battlefield. Not surprisingly, Congress, the White House, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have all encouraged the military to clean up its energy sourcing.”

The Pentagon has a goal of using 3 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025, which is enough to power nearly 2.2 million homes.

The Pentagon currently gets the largest chunk of its renewable energy supply from wind. When combined with its consumption of solar-generated electricity and just a sliver of biomass, its total consumption stands at about 580 megawatts, according to Bloomberg. One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.

That’s just shy of one-third of Google’s total renewable energy use, which hovers at between 1,850-1,900 megawatts derived almost entirely by wind with just a sliver of solar.

Google’s investment in solar and wind amounts to nearly 26 percent of the total amount of renewables used by the other 350 institutions that Bloomberg New Energy Finance tracks, the finance group reported.

Google is “also the leading face of the leading industry,” the group said. “Technology has out-bought manufacturing, retail and the rest since 2013. The sector purchased 1.78 gigawatts in 2015, which was more than the entire country bought in 2014, some 1.63 GW.”