Sam Arons, senior lead of energy & infrastructure, Google
Please tell us your job responsibilities and day-to-day activities.
All energy, all the time. Depending on the day I might be negotiating a renewable energy contract, conducting a financial analysis of a transmission line or substation project for one of our data centers, or working with our finance and accounting teams to plan for the upcoming budget cycle. And once in awhile you might even find me at the top of a wind turbine or visiting one of Google’s data centers around the world.
Tell us your biggest challenge in 2017 and how you are addressing it.
Google will achieve 100% renewable energy for the first time in 2017, and with 2.6 GW under contract around the world, Google is the largest corporate purchaser of renewables on the planet. We expect to keep growing, so continuing to scale up our renewable energy activities will be a full-time job for our team.
Is there a specific recent project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Any tips you can share that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
Achieving 100% renewable energy was a major team effort spanning the data center location and energy strategy, the finance and legal departments, the treasury and accounting teams, and the comms and policy groups. For those interested in pursuing a similar goal, I’d recommend checking out the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, which is a great resource and runs bi-annual boot camps for folks to get up to speed.
Please tell us what you see in the market in the next few years. What are the biggest challenges the industry will face?
With the phase-out of federal tax incentives and the continued need for additional transmission build-out, renewables will face challenges in the years ahead. But if costs continue to decline and transmission build continues apace, I think we’ll see a lot more wind and solar come online.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion, or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you.
Mentoring the next generation of energy leaders is something I’m passionate about, whether through one-on-one interactions or through more formalized groups like Young Professionals in Energy. It’s inspiring to see the enthusiasm of the next generation around our energy challenges.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Perhaps my favorite energy-related moment at Google occurred while visiting a wind farm in northern Sweden. After we visited the site and climbed one of the towers for a commanding view over the boreal forest, we were treated to a lunch of reindeer meatloaf. Yum!