Google’s Emissions Up By 50% Mainly From Data Centres And AI

Google has reported an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in their latest Environmental Report. This is mainly due to their data centres that have expanded as a way to support AI developments, that use about 7-10% of the electricity used by all data centres around the world.

“In 2023, Google had offices and data centres on six continents, in over 200 cities, across nearly 60 countries,” says Google in the report. This requires a lot of energy and explains why heir emissions have gone up by 48% since 2019.

How Much Energy Consumption Did Google Report For 2023?

Last year alone, emissions grew by 13% from the previous year, totalling 14.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. “In 2023, our total data centre electricity consumption grew 17%, despite maintaining a 100% global renewable energy match. As Google’s infrastructure continues to power the digital transition, providing numerous economic benefits across the globe, we expect this trend to continue in the future.

“But we see our growing infrastructure as an opportunity to drive the innovations and investments needed to power a low-carbon economy. Overall, our total GHG emissions increased by 13%—highlighting the challenge of reducing emissions while compute intensity increases and we grow our technical infrastructure investment to support this AI transition,” they report.

Water Usage And Renewable Energy Initiatives

Servers in the data centres require cooling systems and as they expand, more servers are being powered. As a result, Google’s water consumption went up from being at 6% in 2022, to 18% being last year. They have confirmed that they will continue to use the water cooling method.

Microsoft’s recently concluded underwater data centre could serve as a solution for Google as well, but this will depend on how the company decides to go about sustainable water consumption.


Google’s Solutions And Initiatives For Sustainability

In the report, Google has detailed a number of plans and strategies to ensure a sustainable energy consumption rate is maintained in the future.

Google is on a mission to power all its operations with completely clean energy by 2030, and they’re well on their way! They’ve already managed to keep their energy usage 100% renewable for 7 years straight, making this goal a realistic one. They’ve already signed contracts for approximately 4 GW of clean energy capacity as of last year.

When it comes to tech, Google intends on reducing energy consumption through technological innovations. Their data centres will help in this regard, as they are designed to minimise the amount of energy used. With the planned advancements in AI, Google plans to reduce the energy needed to train AI models, which in turn makes these processes up to a hundred times more energy-efficient.

Google added that their water risk framework launched last year will help with water consumption, as it allows them to make sure water use is still mindful of local ecosystems and communities they take water from.

“We have a bold goal to reach net-zero emissions across all of our operations and value chain by 2030, supported by a goal to run on 24/7 CFE on every grid where we operate. In addition, we’re working to advance water stewardship, build a circular economy, and restore and enhance nature and biodiversity,” Google announced in a press release.