Google today confirmed that it has acquired 1,210 acres of land at an industrial park in northern Nevada for $29.1 million.
But a spokesman denied the company had any plans to use the place as a testing facility for its Waymo autonomous car unit as has been widely reported.
The intention instead is to eventually develop the land as a data center. But there is no time line or definite plans for when that might happen, the spokesman said.
The Wall Street Journal was one of the first this week to report on Google’s land purchase at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, a 107,000-acre privately-owned park located near Sparks just east of Reno.
The park is best known for being home to the massive $5 billion, 5.5 million square feet Tesla Gigafactory for manufacturing lithium ion batteries to power its electric cars.
The proximity of Google’s recently purchased land to the Tesla facility prompted some media outlets to speculate about a potential collaboration between the two around autonomous cars or clean energy.
In terms of land area at least, Google’s Nevada facility would be its biggest data center location. If and when Google eventually builds a data center on this newly acquired Nevada site, it will be the company's ninth in the U.S. Six of those data centers are currently operational. Google is in the process of building the other two.
One of them is under construction in Widows Creek, Ala. at the site of a former coal-fired power plant. Google, which puts a big emphasis on making its data centers as environmentally friendly as possible, has said it will try and use the former power plants’ existing transmission lines to deliver renewable energy to the data center.
When complete, the $600 million facility will employ between 75 and 100 full-time employees and contractors according to Google.
Google is building another other data center in Clarksville, Tenn. where Google is converting a former $1.2 billion Hemlock semiconductor facility into a new $600 million data center. Google expects the facility to employ about 70 full-time employees and contractors when it becomes fully operational.
In total, Google has 15 data centers around the world, some of which are still under construction. Four of those are in Europe, two are in Asia and one is based in Quilicura, Chile. The remaining Google data centers are all U.S. based.
In many cases, Google has attempted to use existing facilities and infrastructure to build its data centers. The company has gone to considerable expense to reduce the carbon footprint of its massive data centers as much as possible.
Its data center in St. Ghislain, Belgium, for instance, is the first Google data center worldwide to run without any refrigeration at all. Instead, the company is using grey water from a nearby source to cool the facility.
Similarly, a Google data center being built in Eemshaven, Netherlands will be completely free-cooled meaning it will take advantage of sources like cool air and grey water to keep the data center cool.