Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Google's Renewable Energy Consumption Grows yet Again
The forward-thinking strategies that Google has been known for since the company's inception continue to play out all over the world, including the Nordic region. The Internet giant recently agreed to purchase the entire output of four new Swedish wind farms in order to support its data centre in Hamina, Finland. The data centre is located in a former paper mill that Google purchased in 2009.
In order to provide Google's power needs for the data centre, Eolus Vind AB will construct four brand-new wind farms near the Swedish towns of Alered, Mungseröd, Ramsnäs and Skalleberg. The combined capacity of the farms is expected to be 59 MW using 29 state-of-the-art turbines. Eolus hopes to have them operational in just over a year.
By agreeing to purchase all of the power from the four wind farms, Google does not have to compete with other industries that might be interested in getting into the game however, and more importantly, they are protecting themselves against price hikes for the next 10 years. This allows better management of their energy budget as they continue to develop and expand the Finnish project. Google earlier agreed to a similar deal when they purchased the entire electrical output of another wind farm in northern Sweden.
Google sees its willingness to purchase renewable energy as a way to encourage more producers to create the infrastructure needed to expand the reach of renewables. The company said in official remarks that their renewable power strategies are enabling producers to increase the amount of electricity they add to the grid.
It should be no surprise to see what Google is doing in Sweden and Finland. The Nordic region is the perfect environment for cross-border energy deals thanks to cooperation among Nordic governments. Over the years, the integration of Europe's energy supply has created various initiatives that make it possible for Google to purchase power just about anywhere in Europe they desire.
Thus far Google has targeted more than USD $1 billion in renewable energy projects to underpin its expanding data communications capabilities. In addition to the Swedish project, they are working on additional projects in Germany, South Africa and the United States. That said, their Hamina data centre seems to be one of the hotbeds of the company's investments.
In addition to being primarily run on renewable energy by 2015, the data centre is also home to a revolutionary cooling system using water taken from the Bay of Finland. The company has already invested more than $1.7 million in the ever-expanding facility, with the goal of eventually being operated on 100% renewable power.
The race toward renewables is one the entire data centre industry is now fully engaged in. Nevertheless, at this point, it looks as though Google is way out in front. Moreover, the more investment they make in renewable energy, the more influence they will have in future development. So much for Google just being a search engine...