Carbon free energy for Google Cloud regions

In choosing which Google Cloud region to host your application, there are multiple considerations:

  • Latency to your end users can be different from one region to the next.
  • The price of services differs from region to region.
  • The electricity used to power your application might have a different carbon intensity.

This document explains how to include carbon emissions characteristics into the location choice for your Google Cloud services.

A carbon-free cloud for our customers

To power each Google Cloud region, we use electricity from the grid where the region is located. This electricity generates more or less carbon emissions (gCO2eq), depending on the type of power plants generating electricity for that grid and when we consume it. We recently set a goal to match our energy consumption with carbon-free energy (CFE), every hour and in every region by 2030.

As we work towards our 2030 goal, we want to empower our customers to leverage our 24/7 carbon free energy efforts and consider the carbon impact of where they locate their applications. To characterize each region we use a metric: "CFE%". This metric is calculated for every hour and tells us what percentage of the energy we consumed during an hour that is carbon-free, based on two elements:

  1. The generation feeding the grid at that time (which power plants are running)
  2. Google-attributed clean energy produced onto that grid during that time.

We aggregate the available average hourly CFE percentage for each Google Cloud region for the year and have provided 2020 data below.

Understanding the data

Google CFE%: This is the average percentage of carbon free energy consumed in a particular location on an hourly basis, while taking into account the investments we have made in carbon-free energy in that location. This means that in addition to the carbon free energy that's already supplied by the grid, we have added carbon-free energy generation in that location to reach our 24/7 carbon free energy objective. As a customer, this represents the average percentage of time your application will be running on carbon-free energy.

Grid carbon intensity (gCO2eq/kWh): This metric indicates the average lifecycle gross emissions per unit of energy from the grid. This metric should be used to compare the regions in terms of carbon intensity of their electricity from the local grid. For regions that are similar in CFE%, this will indicate the relative emissions for when your workload is not running on carbon free energy. As an example, Frankfurt and the Netherlands have similar CFE scores, but the Netherlands has a higher emissions factor.

Google Cloud net operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: After calculating our Scope 2 market-based emissions per the GHG Protocol including our renewable energy contracts, Google ensures any remaining Scope 2 emissions are neutralized by investments in carbon offsets; this brings our global net operational emissions to zero.

Carbon data across GCP regions

Google Cloud Region Location Google CFE% Grid carbon intensity
Google Cloud
net operational GHG emissions
asia-east1 Taiwan 18% 540 0
asia-east2 Hong Kong * 453 0
asia-northeast1 Tokyo 12% 554 0
asia-northeast2 Osaka * 442 0
asia-northeast3 Seoul 31% 457 0
asia-south1 Mumbai 12% 721 0
asia-south2 Delhi * 657 0
asia-southeast1 Singapore 4% 493 0
asia-southeast2 Jakarta * 647 0
australia-southeast1 Sydney 11% 727 0
australia-southeast2 Melbourne * 691 0
europe-central2 Warsaw * 622 0
europe-north1 Finland 94% 133 0 leaf icon Low CO2
europe-west1 Belgium 79% 212 0 leaf icon Low CO2
europe-west2 London 59% 231 0
europe-west3 Frankfurt 63% 293 0
europe-west4 Netherlands 60% 410 0
europe-west6 Zurich * 87 0 leaf icon Low CO2
northamerica-northeast1 Montreal * 27 0 leaf icon Low CO2
southamerica-east1 Sao Paulo 88% 103 0 leaf icon Low CO2
us-central1 Iowa 93% 454 0 leaf icon Low CO2
us-east1 South Carolina 27% 480 0
us-east4 Northern Virginia 58% 361 0
us-west1 Oregon 90% 78 0 leaf icon Low CO2
us-west2 Los Angeles 54% 253 0
us-west3 Salt Lake City 28% 533 0
us-west4 Las Vegas 19% 455 0

* indicates that we do not currently have the hourly energy information available for calculating the metrics. For these regions, we will roll out the metrics once the hourly data becomes available.

Find the same data in a machine readable format on GitHub or as a BigQuery public dataset.

The hourly grid mix and carbon intensity data used to calculate these metrics is from Tomorrow's electricityMap.

How to incorporate carbon free energy in your location strategy

Be sure to consider the other best practices for choosing resource locations like data residency requirements, latency to your end users, redundancy of the application, and price of the services available.

To use the CFE data above, here are some good ideas to get you started:

  1. Pick a cleaner region for your new applications. If you are going to run an application over time, running in the region with the highest CFE% will emit the lowest carbon emissions.
  2. Run batch jobs on the cleanest option. Batch workloads often have the benefit of planning. You should pick the region with the highest CFE% available to you.
  3. Set an organizational policy for low carbon locations. You can restrict the location of your resources to a particular Google Cloud region or subset of regions using the "Resource Location Restriction" organization policy. Dedicated "low carbon" value groups have been created to enable you to restrict locations with low carbon impact. For example, if you want to use only US-based regions, use the "Low carbon United States" (in:us-low-carbon-locations) value group.

Low carbon indicators

Some location pages on the Google Cloud website and location selectors in the Cloud console display " leaf icon Low CO2" next to locations that have the lowest carbon impact. The "Resource Location Restriction" organization policy offers "low carbon" value groups.

For a location to be considered "low carbon", it must belong to a region with a Google CFE% of at least 75%, or, if CFE% information is not available, a grid carbon intensity of maximum 200 gCO2eq/kWh.