Apr 27 • 52M

Volts podcast: Michael Terrell on Google's pursuit of 24/7 clean energy

The company has become more outspoken on policy.

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Volts is a podcast about leaving fossil fuels behind. I've been reporting on and explaining clean-energy topics for almost 20 years, and I love talking to politicians, analysts, innovators, and activists about the latest progress in the world's most important fight. (Volts is entirely subscriber-supported. Sign up!)
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One of the big energy stories of the last decade is the surprising scale and vigor of the corporate sector’s push into clean energy. In 2020 alone, US corporate and industrial (C&I) buyers procured 10.6 gigawatts of renewable energy — a third of all the renewables capacity added in the country that year.

One of the earliest and most ambitious buyers was Google, which announced in 2012 that it would set out to procure renewable energy equal to its total energy consumption; it achieved that goal in 2017 (and every year since).

Then, in 2020, Google announced a new goal: it wants to run all of its facilities around the world on carbon-free energy, every hour of every day, 24/7. That is a much more difficult undertaking and it involves much more than wind and solar power. (I did a series of posts/pods on the 24/7 target if you want to dig in deeper.)

Last week, Google released a new white paper in which it makes a series of policy recommendations, from clean energy standards to new regional energy markets, that it argues will help it and the rest of the grid reach round-the-clock clean energy.

It seems like a good occasion to connect with Michael Terrell, Google’s director of energy, to ask him how the 24/7 effort is going, what kinds of technologies might help achieve it, and what sorts of policies could help unlock it for the entire grid.