Google Increases Investments in Green Energy to Power Data Centers

Google says it has committed to purchasing 842 megawatts of renewable energy to power its global operations.  

Google green power

Google has signed contracts to purchase a staggering 842 megawatts of energy over the next few years to feed its power-hungry data centers.

But in keeping with the company's commitment to environmental conservation, all of it will be in the form of renewable energy sourced through several solar and wind projects in the United States and abroad.

Google on Thursday described the contracts as the largest and the most diverse renewable energy purchases by a non-utility company ever. The agreements boost Google’s total purchases of renewable energy to 2 gigawatts and bring the company a huge step closer to its goal of powering all 14 of its global data centers through green energy.

The 842 additional megawatts that Google has signed up for will come from a total of six energy projects, four of which are located in the U.S. and one each in Chile and Sweden.

The biggest of the new projects involves Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based company that owns and operates wind, solar and natural gas power generation and storage facilities in the U.S and Europe. Invenergy will deliver 225 megawatts of clean energy under its contract with Google.

Google also has committed to purchase 200 megawatts of energy each from RES Americas of Broomfield, Colo., and EDF Renewable Energy of San Diego. In a separate press release, EDF said the agreement calls on EDF to supply the full output of its 201-megawatt Great Western Wind Project located near the Oklahoma panhandle, to Google. The project is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2016 and will be completed by the end of the year, EDF said.

The three remaining projects are with Duke Energy for 61 megawatts, Sweden’s Eolous Vind for 76 megawatts and Chile’s Acconia Emergia for 80 megawatts.

Each of the contracts ranges from 10 to 20 years and is designed to provide financial stability and certainty for the organizations involved in developing and operating them, Google senior vice president of technical infrastructure, Urs Holzle wrote.

"For our part, these contracts not only help minimize the environmental impact of our services—they also make good business sense by ensuring good prices," he said. Holzle described Google's latest contracts for renewable energy as a continuation of its multi-year efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of its data centers.

The company claims that its data centers consume about 50 percent less energy than comparable facilities because they use energy efficient servers and networking technology, home-built cooling systems and gray water for cooling purposes.

Google has said that its commitment to green energy extends beyond its own data centers. The company claims it has agreed to fund $2.5 billion in 22 wind and solar energy projects around the world where Google is not the intended consumer of the renewable energy.

"These investments have been in some of the largest and most transformative renewable energy projects in the world with a goal to help drive renewable energy development not only as a customer, but as an investor, and bring down costs for everyone," Holzle said.

Google has received a lot of attention for its commitment to clean energy, but the company is not the only one committed to the approach. Like Google, Amazon says it wants 100 percent of its operations to be powered by renewable energy. The company has claimed that, as of April 2015, about 25 percent of its energy requirements are being met by wind and solar energy projects. The company wants that number to reach 40 percent by the end of 2016.

Another technology giant, Microsoft, is also taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint by purchasing renewable energy. For example, like Google, Microsoft too has an agreement with RES Americas to purchase 110 megawatts of wind energy. The company says that hydroelectricity accounts for some 83 percent of the energy consumed by its Redmond campus.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.