Google data cen­ters have evolved, set to reach 100% re­new­able en­ergy

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Al­pha­bet Inc. has inked a 10-year deal in Europe to buy the largest so­lar park in The Nether­lands to power a re­cently opened data cen­ter hous­ing thou­sands of servers. It is a part of the search en­gine gi­ant’s plan to power Google data cen­ters with re­new­able en­ergy sources such as wind and so­lar. With Google in­vest­ing mil­lions in re­new­able fa­cil­i­ties, the prices for wind and so­lar en­ergy are also ex­pected to fall con­sid­er­ably.

No fi­nan­cial de­tails of Al­pha­bet’s deal with Eneco were dis­closed.

Eneco will sup­ply re­new­able en­ergy for months, may be even years.

The Nether­lands, un­like many Euro­pean na­tions, lags be­hind Euro­pean en­ergy goals. Ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat, it is the last out of all EU na­tions when it comes to mak­ing re­new­able en­ergy progress. It will take sev­eral years be­fore it reaches the goal of run­ning on 100% re­new­able en­ergy. This year, the na­tion made an in­vest­ment of 12 bil­lion eu­ros in off­shore wind­mill farms.

It’s not just EU na­tions balling up in the race to see who can be the green­est. Tesla seems to be lead­ing the re­new­able en­ergy race, with its Gi­gafac­to­ries to be 100% re­new­able en­ergy pow­ered. It is build­ing a large so­lar en­ergy plant on the is­land of Kauai in Hawaii to power its auto plants. Ear­lier this year, Ap­ple an­nounced a $1.5 bil­lion green bond to fur­ther its re­new­able en­ergy goals. It is the largest green bond in the U.S. cor­po­rate his­tory. As of 2017, ninety six per­cent of its world­wide en­ergy comes from re­new­able en­ergy sources. In 2016, Face­book an­nounced it

will in­vest $500 mil­lion to build a new data cen­ter in Fort Worth, Texas. The data cen­ter will be 100% pow­ered by re­new­able en­ergy, all thanks to a very lu­cra­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion with Cit­i­group En­ergy, Al­terra Power Cor­po­ra­tion and Star­wood En­ergy Group. Ap­ple, Face­book and Google seem to be close to reach­ing the 100% goal.

Google data cen­ters and the of­fices for its 60,000 em­ploy­ees will be 100% pow­ered by re­new­able en­ergy by the end of 2017. The tar­get took five years to reach, set in 2012. A lot of time was spent in ne­go­ti­at­ing power pur­chase agree­ments. This does not mean that 100% re­new­able en­ergy comes di­rectly from wind and so­lar farms. Google spends a lot of amount pur­chas­ing from re­new­able sources.

The search en­gine gi­ant is al­ready the world’s big­gest cor­po­rate buyer of re­new­able en­ergy. In 2016, it bought 44 per­cent of its power from wind and so­lar farms. With­out wast­ing any time, it is now con­tem­plat­ing about in­vest­ing in nu­clear power, too. The safety im­pli­ca­tions of nu­clear power are much more dra­matic than re­new­ables. This doesn’t mean Google will rule out sign­ing nu­clear projects if it meets its goals of safety and low price.

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