Google is continuing to cement and expand its sustainable data centre and power presence around the world.
Having signed its largest offshore power agreement in the Netherlands, the organisation has agreed to take 478 megawatts (MW) of power from two new wind farms developed by Crosswind & Ecowende Consortia, which are joint ventures between Shell and Eneco.
This move is part of a wider company goal of Google to make its power supply able to achieve its climate targets. During a time of increased electricity demand, increasing numbers of companies are turning to power purchase agreements (PPAs) to achieve sustainability targets and diversify power projects under development like wind, for example.
Seeking cleaner power for data centre operation
According to Reuters, renewable power project developers are increasingly tying electricity outputs to long-term PPAs to provide revenue security. Likewise, corporate buyers are keen to lock in supply and ensure that they are able to meet their targets for sourcing clean power.
In recent months, Google has continually demonstrated its commitment to renewable energy and sustainable power. Within the data centre sector, it is aiming to set an example by advancing new innovations like liquid cooling so that its facilities can operate in a more sustainable way.
In 2023, Google accelerated its renewable investments, even releasing a framework for sustainable water use to commit to better water security within its operations. If a water source is considered to be high risk, Google will pursue alternative sources or cooling solutions at its data centre campuses.
It is also committed to expanding its presence across Europe, having partnered with Danish company Danfoss to implement heat reuse technology to better leverage generative AI (Gen AI), in addition to its new data centre facility in the UK.
Here is company Head of Sustainability, Adam Elman, discussing renewables at Sustainability LIVE London 2023:
As the digital economy continues to expand, driving mostly by AI and machine learning, customer demand has never been higher. With this in mind, organisations around the world are looking for new and improved ways to operate without expanding their carbon footprint.
“Our ambition to operate on carbon-free energy around the clock by 2030 requires clean energy solutions in every grid where we operate,” says Matt Brittin, President of Google in EMEA.
Redefining renewable PPAs
The new offshore wind power agreement signed by Google is aiming to reduce pollution from data centres in the Netherlands. It is keen that its two data centres in the region should be able to hit 90% clean energy this year, in addition to purchasing renewable energy from onshore wind and solar farms across Italy, Poland and Belgium.
Many companies with similar goals currently work on an annual basis, matching PPAs or purchases of renewable energy certificates with their yearly electricity use.
Google, however, is seeking to match each hour of electricity used with an hour of clean power production - a method that it claims better reflects companies' actual energy use. Microsoft has also committed to this type of PPA.
Shell and Eneco are building a 760 MW offshore wind farm via the Ecowende joint venture, with the project consisting of 54 Vestas and 15 MW wind turbines. It is reported to be one of the first wind farms in the world that has been created with the goal of being in ‘harmony’ with nature.
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