Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Google Goes 100% Solar in Chile

Late last year (2016), Google made a daring announcement that set the tech world abuzz: it will be disconnecting from all non-renewable energy sources in 2017.  The implication of that announcement is that Google plans to power all its facilities using wind, solar and other green initiatives. They recently took a big step toward accomplishing that goal by reaching a deal with a solar power producer in Chile.

News reports say Google has purchased some 80 MW of power from a Chilean company by the name of Acciona Energy. Acciona operates a massive solar power facility north of Santiago, in the Atacama Desert. The 1.5 million m² facility can produce up to 493 GWh annually.

The Atacama Desert offers an ideal location for a solar power facility thanks to it being the driest non-polar desert in the world. It is extremely arid, with very little annual rainfall and consistent sunshine almost year-round. The Atacama is situated between the Pacific Coast and the west side of the Andes mountains.

A Big Win for Google

Google certainly turned heads when they announced their intentions to be completely green for power needs by the end of this year. As such, the deal with Acciona represents a big win for them. Google will use 100% solar power for all their Chilean data centres, along with office space in Quilicura.

It should be noted that in some locales it's not easy to directly purchase green energy due to the way energy grids are set up. Google does not see that as an obstacle, but as a challenge. In their announcement last year, they committed to buying 100% of their energy directly from green producers. They appear to be putting their words into action with the deal in Chile.

Google has already worked out 20 different renewable energy deals with providers around the world. They have put their money where their mouths are too as, already, the company has invested some £3 billion in green energy efforts. Google officials claim the company is the world's largest corporate buyer of green energy, with total commitments thus far reaching in excess of 2.6 GW annually.

Data Centre Energy Consumption

Whether Google actually attains its 100% green energy goal this year or not, the deal they've reached in Chile is still both important and historic. The world's data centres are now among the largest consumers of energy in nearly every market. That is not going to change. As the digital age brings more technologies for sharing information around the world, the energy needs of the entire data centre industry are only going to keep growing.

Google's goal for green energy now sets the standard for the rest of the tech industry to follow. Google has made a very impressive move in Chile, just as they have elsewhere. Now how long will it be before other tech giants do the same? There's no way to know, but it will be fun to watch.

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