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Published on October 28th, 2018 | by Cynthia Shahan


Google’s Renewable Energy Leadership (#CleanTechnica Interview)

October 28th, 2018 by  

Zachary Shahan, Director & Chief Editor here at CleanTechnica, recently congratulated and interviewed Joseph Kava of Google after they won the Large Corporation Award of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Google won for its leadership in the green, sustainable, “circular economy,” as Joseph Kava put it. Kava is President of Data Centers at Google.

Zachary leads with some congratulations and questions about leadership. “Google is obviously extremely well deserving of this great honor and win. I think we’ve been covering you since we launched in 2007, maybe 2008 at least. Year after year, you’ve been a leader — sort of like doing not just what others are doing to advance cleantech, but what others aren’t yet doing. So, you’ve been leading in procurement, in research and development, in different areas. Where do you see the leadership need right now? How are you filling that hole right now to lead on cleantech again?”

Joseph Kava responds, “So, with respect to overall sustainability, I think the leadership position is not just in energy efficiency or renewable energy consumption — obviously, we are doing that. We have procured as of Q3 2017 100% renewable energy for all of our operations worldwide. So, that means that we match every energy unit that we use with a renewable energy purchase.

“I think that it goes beyond that. It goes into the aspects of a circular economy — remanufacturing our systems. 36% of our machines and our data centers were remanufactured in the last year. It goes into the aspects of other natural resource use. So, water — it is not just use of water but more importantly how do we not use potable water for industrial uses? So, we pioneered technologies in seawater cooling and rainwater reuse and even shipping canal water reuse so we don’t have to consume potable water, which is obviously a very sensitive natural resource as well.”

Zachary continues, “One thing we discussed quite a bit on the [Zayed Future Energy Prize] review committee is your decision to procure the power, not just buy the credits — which of course there are pros and cons and there are different approaches — Amazon, Walmart have taken other approaches. Why do you see that as so important? And I guess IKEA, which was previously here as well, took a similar approach. Why do you think that’s so important to advancing sustainability?”

Joseph Kava answers, “So, for us, it’s not just about taking credit for being green, but it’s also using our buying power to help advance the amount of renewable energy on the grids in which we operate — so, setting up these large Power Purchase Agreements, that I’m sure you’re familiar with, that we do. It’s not just that we’re taking green credits from a project that happens somewhere else in the world — but we’re actually buying renewable energy, putting it onto the market. We are taking the green energy credits for ourselves, but it’s the whole idea of additionality and then our consumption can be attributed specifically to the projects in which we are invested.”

Zachary broadens the conversation with some probing around the source of this leadership: “And we like to dive into the human component of that. Can you say anything about how that originally — I think you were one of the first to procure renewable energy at a large scale like this. You and IKEA seem to be, I think, two of the first. Can you say anything about initial meetings and discussions about how that came about and whose vision it was to jump into a leadership position in that way?”

Kava responds, “No, I think that the leadership at Google has been committed at the core to our beliefs in sustainability and energy efficiency right from the beginning.”

Zachary jumps in, “And to making the world a better place.”

Kava agrees, “That’s right. You know, we also believe investing in these large, fixed-floating power purchase agreements, they give us long-term visibility into what our energy costs are going to be in future years, and so that’s also I think very good for sustainable business as well.

Zachary congratulates Joseph Kava and Google one more time, “Thank you very much. Hugely deserved and we appreciate how Google has led the market in this direction.”

Joseph Kava responds, “It’s been a real honor for us, and for me personally to accept on behalf of Google.”

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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