More Swedish wind power for our Finnish data centre

1/22/14 | 2:00:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Google Europe Blog)

We’re keen to make sure that our data centres around the world use as much renewable energy as possible. By entering into long-term agreements with wind farm developers over the past few years, we’ve been able to increase the amount of renewable energy we consume while helping enable the construction of new facilities.

Today we announced that we’ve signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) in Sweden (our second such agreement there in less than 12 months). We will buy the entire electricity output of four as-yet-unbuilt wind farms in southern Sweden, at a fixed price, for the next ten years.

Windfarm developer Eolus Vind will build four wind farms, in Alered, Mungseröd, Skalleberg and Ramsnäs, Sweden. The 29-turbine project, with a total combined capacity of 59MW, already has all relevant planning approvals and permits and will become fully operational in early 2015.



Once completed, the wind farms will provide Google’s Hamina, Finland, data centre with additional renewable energy as the facility expands in coming years.

Buying renewable energy in Sweden and consuming it in Finland is possible thanks to Europe’s increasingly integrated power markets, in particular the Nord Pool spot market. This allows Google to buy renewable energy with Guarantee of Origin certification in Sweden, “retire” the certificates and then consume an equivalent amount of power elsewhere in Europe.



This marks our sixth long-term agreement to purchase renewable energy. We keep signing these contracts for two main reasons: they make great financial sense for us, and increase the amount of renewable energy available in the grid, which is great for the environment too.

A new wind investment in Texas

1/14/14 | 10:03:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there. In late December we finalized an agreement to invest $75 million in the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, outside of Amarillo. The 182MW facility, developed by leading wind developer Pattern Energy Group LP, has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power 56,000 U.S. homes. We expect the facility to be operational by the end of 2014.

The future sight of Pattern's Panhandle 2 wind farm
Panhandle 2 is our 15th renewable energy investment overall, and our second in Texas—last year around this time we announced an approximately $200 million investment in the Spinning Spur wind farm. In addition to these two projects, we’re also buying Texas wind from the Happy Hereford wind farm as part of our goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy. These efforts reflect our long-standing commitment to renewable energy as both an investor and a consumer.

Sunset at another Pattern facility, Gulf Wind

Let that Texas wind blow!

An update on our efforts to expand options for companies to buy renewable energy

11/15/13 | 2:15:00 PM

Back in April, as part of an announcement that we were expanding our Lenoir, N.C. data center, our electricity provider Duke Energy committed to developing a new program to enable companies to buy renewable energy directly from the utility. At the time we also published a white paper explaining why we think this is important.

Since then, we and others have been providing input on the development of a pilot program, which will officially be called the Green Source Rider. We’re pleased to report that Duke just filed their proposal for the Rider with the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission (NCUC) for approval. While the Rider still needs to be vetted by stakeholders and approved by the NCUC, we applaud Duke for developing a new option for customers to green their power supplies in North Carolina.

Our long-term goal is to power our data centers with 100% renewable energy, and we look forward to working with Duke and others to find cost-effective renewable energy options that can be offered under the Green Source Rider. It’s our hope that this effort will encourage additional development of clean energy in North Carolina and elsewhere for growing companies like Google.

Solar in California and Arizona: More of a good thing

11/14/13 | 6:00:00 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

You’d think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope—we’re still as into it as ever, which is why we’re so pleased to announce our 14th investment: We’re partnering with global investment firm KKR to invest in six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona. Developed by leading solar developer Recurrent Energy, the projects have a combined capacity of 106MW and will generate enough electricity to power over 17,000 U.S. homes. Google will make an approximately $80 million investment into these facilities.

The 17.5 MWac/22 MWp Victor Phelan project (pictured), located in San Bernardino, Calif., is part of six Recurrent Energy developed projects acquired by Google and KKR. The six-project portfolio is expected to operational by early 2014 and will generate enough clean electricity to power more than 17,000 U.S. homes.

This investment is similar to one we made back in 2011, when we teamed up with KKR and invested $94 million in four solar facilities developed by Recurrent. Those facilities have since started generating electricity, and we’ve committed hundreds of millions more—more than $1 billion in total—to renewable energy projects around the world.

These investments are all part of our drive toward a clean energy future—where renewable energy is abundant, accessible and affordable. By continuing to invest in renewable energy projects, purchasing clean energy for our operations and working with our utility partners to create new options for ourselves and for other companies interest in buying renewable energy, we’re working hard to make that future a reality.

A solar investment in California’s Imperial Valley

10/10/13 | 9:00:00 AM

We’re celebrating Halloween early with our “lucky thirteenth” renewable energy investment: a $103 million commitment to Mount Signal Solar, a 265.7 MW solar photovoltaic plant in Imperial County, CA. The project will generate enough energy to power 80,000 homes.

Like many states, California has a goal of increasing the amount of energy procured from renewable sources. The energy from Mount Signal Solar, which has been contracted to San Diego Gas & Electric, will help California meet this goal. The project, which is owned and operated by Silver Ridge Power (formerly AES Solar), will also create over 900 construction jobs in a part of the state that suffers from high unemployment.

Thirteen renewable energy investments in three years! That’s a lot of energy—the over $1 billion we’ve committed to these projects will generate enough electricity each year to power more than 500,000 U.S. homes. Why are we making these investments? It’s simple: we believe in a clean energy future, and we think that companies like ours can help make it happen. We invest in these projects because they make business sense, because they help put more renewable energy on the grid, and because they have a positive impact on the local economies where they operate.

The Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial County, CA



Another windy day in Texas: a new power purchase agreement

9/17/13 | 9:00:00 AM

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

As part of our quest to power our operations with 100% renewable energy, we’ve agreed to purchase the entire output of the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. This agreement represents our fifth long-term agreement and our largest commitment yet; we’ve now contracted for more than 570 MW of wind energy, which is enough energy to power approximately 170,000 U.S. households.

The Happy Hereford wind farm, which is expected to start producing energy in late 2014, is being developed by Chermac Energy, a small, Native American-owned company based in Oklahoma. The wind farm will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional grid that serves our Mayes County, Okla. data center.

Some (happy) cows on the future site of the wind farm.   
The cows will still have plenty of room to graze between the turbines.

The structure of this agreement is similar to our earlier commitments in Iowa and Oklahoma. Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it. After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.

This type of power purchase agreement represents one of several ways we’re working to make additional renewable energy available for both our data centers and the communities in which we operate. In Scandinavia, due to the region’s unified power market and grid system, we’re able to purchase wind energy in Sweden and directly consume it at our Hamina, Finland data center. We’re also working with our local utility partners to develop new options. In 2012, we signed an agreement with GRDA, our utility partner in Oklahoma, to green the energy supply to our Oklahoma data center with 48 MW of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project. Earlier this year, we began working with Duke Energy to develop a new renewable energy tariff (PDF) in North Carolina.

We take a comprehensive approach to acquiring renewable energy for our operations. We’ll continue working directly with utility providers, collaborating with industry regulators and pursuing creative agreements (PDF) like the Happy Hereford PPA.

The latest on our carbon footprint

8/13/13 | 7:22:00 PM

We’ve just updated our Google Green site with carbon footprint data for 2012. Over the past year we’ve continued to use more renewable energy, squeezed even more efficiency out of our operations and helped our customers reduce their own IT footprint.

Google has been carbon neutral for six years. This means that all of the work we do has a total carbon footprint of zero. This includes serving 100 billion search queries and 6 billion hours of YouTube videos a month, supporting 750 million Chrome users and delivering Google Maps in 194 countries. It also includes efforts such as developing self-driving cars and launching Wi-Fi-enabled balloons into the atmosphere.

In 2012 we emitted 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, before purchasing high-quality carbon offsets to reduce that footprint to zero. Our total carbon emissions decreased 9% compared to the previous year because we’re now deducting our green power purchases from our carbon footprint. We’re deducting these purchases according to new reporting guidance from the Carbon Disclosure Project. We continue to buy large amounts of renewable energy for our operations; to date we’ve contracted for over 330 MW of wind power in the US and Europe. For transparency’s sake, we’re also reporting our footprint without those purchases. We urge others to do the same, which is why we participate in the World Resources Institute Scope 2 accounting process. This helps to ensure greenhouse gas reporting remains transparent and meaningful.

For the fourth year in a row, we’re emitting less carbon per million dollars of revenue. This means that our footprint is growing more slowly than our business because we’re able to get more done with each gram of carbon we emit.

To put these numbers in perspective, we estimate that serving an active Google user for one month is like driving a car one mile. For this calculation, we assumed that an active Google user is someone who does 25 searches and watches 60 minutes of YouTube a day, has a Gmail account and uses our other services. To serve that user, Google emits about 8 grams of carbon per day.


We’re also helping others reduce their carbon footprint. Research indicates that cloud computing is more energy efficient than traditional IT. This means that the five million businesses using Google Apps are reducing their IT energy consumption. Using the Berkeley Lab model, we estimate that their combined savings could add up to more than our carbon footprint. As we continue to drive down our emissions, we’re encouraged that our efficiency gains are translating into lower emissions for our users.