Googling Renewable Energy


Timing is everything. With Earth Day on April 22, the anniversary of the environmental movement that began in the 1970s, Google announced Thursday it agreed to buy electricity from a wind generator facility in Oklahoma. The Mountain View, Calif. company bought 100 megawatts of wind energy production from NextEra Energy Resources in Minco, Oklahoma to power its new data center in nearby Mayes County. The agreement boosts the use of renewable power on the electric grid to support the servers.

Under the 20-year deal, Google Energy will purchase 100.8 megawatts of power capacity, which Google will resell to the power grid through the regional spot market. The agreement is similar in size and structure to the one signed in July for wind energy in Iowa, Google said.

In a blog post, Google explains it has managed to reduce energy consumption by more than 50% by building "highly energy efficient facilities," but knows that's not enough to eliminate its carbon footprint. So the company has been exploring other ways to reduce emissions further by increasing the amount of renewable energy used to power its operations.

Google has pledged for years to reduce its carbon footprint to zero. And although it's an aggressive goal, Google hopes to achieve it in part by purchasing carbon-free renewable energy to power its data centers. In a white paper published Wednesday, Google describes its plan to purchase the energy and use it, and ways to apply renewable energy credits.

The white paper also lays out some common objections to this approach that some believe are faulty, which Google addresses one by one, including "buying power from a renewable power facility that is already built doesn't contribute to new renewable power on the grid."

Google also partnered with Japan's Sumitomo and Itochu for a $500 million stake in General Electric Co's wind farm under construction in Oregon.

Happy Earth Day!

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