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Google Inching Closer to Fulfilling its Renewable Energy Goals

GoogleGoogle says that it is inching closer to energy and climate goals — that its recent purchase of an additional 236 megawatts from two wind farms in Norway and Sweden will help it fully power its data centers with green energy. In a blog, it says that last year it bought 842 megawatts of renewable energy.

“These new Nordic power purchase agreements complement our three other Swedish wind deals and enable us to power even more of our European operations with renewable energy,” writes Marc Oman, EU energy lead for Google Global Infrastructure. “In total, we now have seven purchase agreements in Europe, totaling more than 500 MW and 18 such deals globally, which means we’ve now purchased nearly 2.5 gigawatts (GW) worldwide – the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road.”

Google says that ever since it opened its first data center in 2006, it has set a goal to increase its use of sustainable energy. How?

— By designing its data centers to be energy efficient;

— By entering into power purchase agreements to procure green power;

— By buying green energy directly from utilities, and

— By investing directly into renewable energy projects.

“One of our key goals is to enable the addition of new renewable energy generation capacity to the grid, rather than drawing power from existing facilities,” the blog says. “And thanks to Europe’s increasingly integrated energy market, we’re able to buy wind energy in Norway and Sweden, and consume it elsewhere in Europe.”

The rationale for going fully green? Google has hundreds of thousands of its servers that are still partially dependent on fossil-fueled power. Running them on green energy will save it money while also limiting its emissions. So just as it gained experience constructing and designing large-scale data centers over the years, the global leader in Internet technologies is now applying the same lessons to expand its use of renewable energy.

One of Google’s biggest “green” investment happened two years ago: it purchased renewable energy certificates from MidAmerican Energy that equate to 407 megawatts of electricity. Google has also invested $2.5 billion in 22 separate renewable energy projects.

“As Google and other industry giants invest in renewables, they’re lighting the way for sustainable business on a larger scale,” says Shawn Mills, president of Green House Data, a data-center services company focused on sustainability, in a previous interview.

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