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Google Sustainability Director, Rick Needham

Google Sustainability Director, Rick Needham

We spoke with Rick Needham, Director of Sustainability and Energy at Google, about the company's strategy on renewable energy. Energy drives the business. As a company focused on sustainability, they want to make sure they are using energy efficiently and using as much renewable energy as possible. In addition to procuring more clean energy for their operations, they are also investing more in clean energy technologies for their users and the world at large. Google believes this makes good business sense and helps in the transition to a clean energy future.

Since 2010, Google has invested in eleven renewable energy projects, committing over one billion dollars, for a capacity of 2 GW. Needham says these investments are a good way to make a return on our capital and help fund some transformative projects. So far, Google have invested in largest wind farm, large solar photovoltaic plants, largest solar power tower in the world, even a transmission line off the mid-Atlantic coast for offshore wind which could transform the US offshore wind industry by connecting 7000 MW of wind.

Needham thinks there’s a lot of opportunity for cleanweb: "We have a host of products that allow people to live more sustainably." From biking direction on google maps or google transit to help people find and locate mass transit, or G+ and youtube, that allow people to connect better with other people interested in sustainability. Google been proponents of greater transparency in energy use, which allows people to leverage information to use energy more intelligently. This is both great for the grid, allow more renewables to come online, as well as for consumers who get access to more convenient, cheaper clean energy.

Needham concludes that the great thing about sustainability is you can make the world better, but you can also do it in ways that make great business sense. "This really is the the true the definition of sustainability."