Google Strikes Solar Farm Deal to Accelerate Net Zero Transition in Australia

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The 25-megawatt solar farm will be constructed in Riverina by Swedish energy company OX2.

Internet giant Google has stepped up its net zero transition in Australia by investing in a new solar farm in New South Wales (NSW).

On Dec. 19, data centre firm AirTrunk, Swedish energy company OX2, and Google announced a partnership on renewable energy.

The three companies have agreed to enter into a long-term Power Purchase Agreement and will develop a 25-megawatt solar farm in Riverina, NSW.

OX2 will be responsible for constructing the solar farm, while AirTrunk will buy the renewable energy generated by the farm and associated energy attribute certificates with time-matching to Google’s consumption.

The move is Google’s latest effort to achieve the goal of operating its offices and data centres on 24/7 “carbon-free” energy in Australia by 2030.

“Industry collaboration and innovation are crucial to achieving our ambitious sustainability objectives, including our efforts to drive a substantial increase in carbon-free energy capacity across the Asia Pacific region,” said Mel Silva, the managing director at Google Australia.

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“As part of our broader Digital Future Initiative, this project will see us support local infrastructure to tackle big challenges like climate change while also further solidifying the foundations of a growth-centric yet sustainable digital economy.”

AirTrunk chief customer and innovation officer Damien Spillane believed the partnership would play an important role in helping Australia achieve net zero emissions.

“Our collaboration with Google and OX2 will deliver new renewable energy capacity into the grid on the east coast of Australia,” he said in a statement.

“Developments like this are critical to accelerating progress towards a carbon-free future in Australia.”

The three companies expected the solar farm to commence operation in 2025.

However, they did not disclose the amount of investment needed to build the project.

Google is not the only tech company that is aggressively pursuing net zero emissions.

Other global tech giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple also have ambitious net zero goals.

In 2021, Facebook declared that it had achieved net zero after cutting 94 percent of emissions in three years, while Apple announced that it aimed to become carbon neutral with its entire supply chain by 2030.

Google Executive Admits Significant Mining Is Needed for Net Zero

Amid the race to net zero, Google is aware that the company needs a significant amount of key mineral resources from mining to secure a carbon-free future.

During a June conference in Seattle, Mike Werner, the head of circular economy at Google, outlined the need for new mining activities to keep up with product demand and the net zero transition.

“We’ve done some modelling, and it’s pretty clear that we are not going to reach net zero without significant mining,” he said, according to GreenBiz.

“I don’t know that the broad sustainability community has really understood that.”

While Google had tried to extract minerals from old appliances, it was not enough to meet the company’s consumption.

Mr. Werner also predicted that countries around the world would need to remove “trillions and trillions of tons” of soil to get the minerals required to build the technologies and infrastructures for net zero.

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