Google has agreed to buy wind energy to directly power its Oklahoma data center. It’s the first time Google has powered any of its data centers directly with renewable energy, although it has invested hundreds of millions in renewable energy projects worldwide.
Google has agreed to buy 48 megawatts of wind power from the Canadian Hills wind power project in Oklahoma. In a statement, Google has said that it has been working with its local utility, the Grand River Dam Authority, to obtain additional renewable energy since launching the data center in 2011.
The initiative to power a data center directly with renewable energy has been in the planning for a long time. Bill Weihl, Google’s former (now at Facebook) green energy czar (yes, czar), had been an advocate for it, and the company has followed through with the plan. It took a while because the company needed to find the right location, power utility, and data center. These data centers consume a lot of power, so it’s no easy task to execute such a big project.
Google says it has paid a premium to purchase the wind power for the center. It’s well worth it to the company, and no doubt to us, Google’s users, as half of Oklahoma’s grid power comes from coal-fired power plants. Greenpeace was quick to point this out when the center was being built.
In any case, this is good news for Google users everywhere, to know that a little more of our internet use is being powered with renewable energy. Perhaps more big internet companies will follow. Notably, late last year, with a lot of prodding from a Greenpeace campaign, Facebook announced it will (eventually) power all of its operations, including data centers, with clean and renewable energy instead of coal.
Image CC licensed by USDAgov: Wind farm in Oklahoma