Friday, 3 June 2011

Google continues to invest in green energy

Google logo There has been several news items about Google’s efforts to save energy and invest in renewables in recent weeks:

• The company’s has a new data centre in Hamina, Finland that uses sea water for cooling. The data centre is built in a historic mill on the Baltic Sea and Google maintains that it is one of its most technically innovative and environmentally conscientious facilities.

The cooling system pumps cold water from the sea, transfers heat from the data centre to the water through a heat exchanger and returns the sea water to the Gulf. It provides all the cooling needed all year, so no chillers are installed.

(All it needs is some good use for the warmed water - ed).


• Google is providing $55m to finance the 102 MW Alta IV project at the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC), which will generate 1,550 megawatts of energy when complete, enough to power 450,000 homes. It brings Google’s investment in clean energy to more than $400m.

Renewable energy developer Terra-Gen Power is constructing the site in several phases - Citibank, which has underwritten the equity for Alta Projects II-V, is also investing in this project.


The first five Alta projects are already operational. Google and Citi are purchasing the Alta IV project and will lease it back to Terra-Gen, who will manage and operate the wind projects under long-term agreements.While Google won’t be purchasing the electricity from the project, AWEC will help California meet its renewable target of 33% clean power by 2020.

• According to Reuters, Google and its partners have got through the first regulatory obstacle in their bid to build a $5bn transmission line off the Atlantic coast to support offshore wind farms. This is the project that I reported on back in October

It’s called the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone and will stretch for 350 miles along the coast from New Jersey to Virginia with the ability to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines. The idea is to connect offshore power hubs that will collect the power from offshore wind farms and deliver it via sub-sea cables to the most suitable points on the land-based transmission system.

The regulator has agreed that the companies backing the project can earn a 12.59% return on their investment, which is less than the 13.58% requested by the companies. The project's backers are Google, Good Energies, a private firm, and Japan's Marubeni Corp.

There are still a number of hurdles yet, though. According to Reuters the companies need approval from the Interior Department, several state agencies and the regional power grid operator. The companies hope to have the first phase of the transmission line operating in 2016.

© The Green IT Review

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