Wind to Power Google Data Center

Who says all data center operators are power mad?

Perhaps in response to the ongoing New York Times series on data-center power consumption (including its latest piece on Microsoft’s practices) Google took the opportunity on Wednesday to explain its supposedly gentler, greener approach to how it sources electricity.

Google said that it had signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) to supply to its Oklahoma data center with 48 MW of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project in Oklahoma, which is expected to come online later this year. The facility, built in Mayes County, Oklahoma, was constructed in 2007, and Google added a second building this spring.

All told, the company has invested $700 million in the facility and created 100 jobs, Google said. That’s quite a bit more than it invested in its first Latin American data center in Quilicura near Santiago, Chile.

“This agreement is a milestone for GRDA because it’s their first-ever wind energy project. It’s also a milestone for Google because it’s a little different from the previous Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) we’ve signed, where we agreed to buy the energy directly from the developer who built the wind farm,” Gary Demasi, director of Google’s Global Infrastructure team, wrote in a Sept. 26 blog posting. “This agreement, by contrast, marks the first time we’ve partnered with a utility provider to increase the amount of renewable energy powering one of our data centers.”

Google has said before that the sites with the best clean power potential are not typically the same places where a data center can best serve its users; for example, they may not be particularly sunny or windy. Earlier this month, Google said it has spent more than $915 million on renewable energy to date. Google didn’t say how much that it was spending on the new power agreement.

“We’ve been working with GRDA, our local utility, to procure additional renewable energy since we ‘plugged in’ our data center in 2011, and in February of 2012, GRDA approached us about purchasing power from Canadian Hills,” Demasi wrote. “In conjunction with the electricity GRDA already supplies Google to operate its data center, Google will pay GRDA a premium to purchase renewable energy generated by Canadian Hills. This brings the total amount of renewable energy for which Google has contracted to over 260 MW.”

In 2007, Google announced its commitment toward making the entire company carbon neutral, through a reduction of energy consumption by maximizing efficiency; investing in and using renewable energy sources; and purchasing carbon offsets for the emissions that the company can’t reduce directly.

 

Image: zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com

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