The company has signed a deal with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) in the US to green the energy supply to its Oklahoma data centre with 48 MW of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project in Oklahoma, which is expected to come online later this year.
As well as the electricity GRDA already supplies to operate the data centre, 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.
The agreement is a milestone for Google because it’s the first time the company has partnered with a utility company to increase the amount of renewable energy powering one of its data centres, rather than buying the energy directly from the developer who built the wind farm.
It has also been announced that Shepherds Flat, one of world's biggest wind farms, in which Google invested around $100m, is now up and running in Oregon. Google, Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America invested approximately $500m between them in the $2bn project.
The electricity produced by the 845-megawatt wind farm will be sold to Southern California Edison as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement. Shepherds Flat will produce two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
Review: I’ve lost count of Google’s investments in renewable energy generation and purchase, but it’s extensive and impressive. Google even has its own subsidiary, Google Energy, regulated in the US to buy and sell energy.
While most major internet/cloud players have focused on energy efficiency, since 2007 Google has been ahead of the game with its renewable energy investment. The significance of the type of energy used in data centres was something that Greenpeace picked up on earlier this year, with a campaign to get Facebook to move away from its heavy reliance on coal-based power. Renewable energy use (or not) is becoming more visible among the major players.