Monday, 26 July 2010

Google and Intel increase their use of renewable energy

Google logo Google has reported that it has just signed a 20-year agreement with NextEra for the supply of green energy. On July 30th the company will start buying the power from the 114 megawatts generated by the NextEra wind farm in Iowa, US, enough to supply several data centres.

This long-term agreement gives the wind farm developers some financial stability for further clean energy projects. In fact, as we reported back in May, Google has already invested $38.8m in two wind farms developed by NextEra Energy Resources.  Located in North Dakota, they generate 169.5 megawatts of electricity.

Although Google is buying the energy directly from the source, the company can’t use it directly, so is selling it back to the grid in the regional spot market. But it does mean that Google no longer needs to buy the equivalent Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) to establish its investment in green power. As the company points out, this direct purchasing deal over a long period is likely to have a greater impact on the renewable industry than simply buying ‘naked’ RECs from third parties.

Intel Meanwhile, Intel has continued its solar energy plans with installations in Folsom, California, and Chandler, Arizona, now up and running. The Folsom installation, across 5.5 acres, is the company’s biggest to-date and will provide 25% of the building’s peak energy demands - more than 1.5 megawatts annually. The Chandler solar roof system will generate around 10% of the building’s energy peak demand.

Intel continues to top the EPA Green Power Partnership – the ranking of green power purchasers in the US. In the April 2010 list the company reported that 51% of its energy is green with the purchase of 1.4 billion kilowatt-hours annually (although that does include RECs), ahead of any other company. Dell was in 5th place with 0.4 billion kilowatt-hours (more than it actually uses in the US) and Cisco was 7th with a similar amount.


It’s great to see major IT players so active in the green energy market. Google has fingers in may green pies, but Intel is getting on with its long-term renewable energy plans and Dell is buying more green power than it actually uses in the US. It sets a good example and its even better when the investment is direct, in wind farms and solar installations, rather than in third-party RECs. It shows the ‘green’ face of an industry that could easily be seen as a polluter and puts a different spin on green IT.

© The Green IT Review

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