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Google makes global investment in solar and wind power

CEO Sundar Pichai called it "the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history."

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Google announced 18 new renewable energy deals. 

Getty Images

Google on Thursday said it's making a major investment in renewable energy. The search giant announced 18 new energy deals across the US, Chile and Europe. That includes purchasing energy from solar farms in South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas, and making data center investments in Chile that combine solar and wind power.

In a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai called it "the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history." In all, the company is purchasing 1,600 megawatts in new energy deals. The new agreements increase Google's worldwide portfolio of wind and solar deals by more than 40%, to 5,500 megawatts, Pichai said.

Google also said the new agreements will kick-start the development of millions of solar panels, wind turbines and other construction, which will add up to more than $2 billion in new infrastructure. 

"Sustainability has been one of Google's core values from our earliest days," Pichai said. "Over the years we've worked hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, build products with people and planet in mind, and drive change at scale through our supply chains."

Pichai also announced two energy-related grants from Google.org, the search giant's philanthropic arm. The company is giving a $500,000 grant to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance in the US, and €500,000 to RE-Source in Europe. The money will be used to research new business models for renewable energy and provide training to consumers. 

Google's announcement comes a day before a global climate strike kicks off Friday, aimed at drawing international attention toward environmental issues. Hundreds of Google employees said they'll join local strikes. Meanwhile, tech giants have tried to address the environmental toll of their businesses. For example, companies like Google and Apple release new versions of their hardware devices every year, leaving consumers with decisions over what to do with their old devices. Apple has a lab in Austin, Texas, that researches new methods for recycling electronics. Last year, Google began publishing environmental product reports that detail what devices are made out of and how they're shipped. 

Last month, the company pledged to make its "Made by Google" line of products -- which include its Pixel smartphones, its Google Home smart speakers and its Nest devices -- more sustainable. The company said all its devices will include recycled materials by 2022. 

Google also said that by next year, all shipments of its products going to or from customers will be carbon neutral. That means there'd be no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a goal usually met by doing something to offset carbon dioxide emissions, like planting trees. 

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