Google: We've Bought 1 Gigawatt of Renewable Energy

Google has signed a contract with its utility provider in Iowa for 407 megawatts of wind energy to support its data center operations in Council Bluffs..

Jason Verge

April 22, 2014

2 Min Read
Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa
An overhead view of the server infrastructure in Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)Alphabet/Google

Google celebrated Earth Day by announcing a 407 megawatt deal with Iowa utility MidAmerican Energy to supply wind energy to support Google’s data center campus in Council Bluffs. The agreement will power both of Google's current facilities and also allow for future expansion. This is the company’s seventh and largest renewable energy commitment to date, bringing total renewable energy contracted to more than one gigawatt (1,000 megawatts).

Google is no stranger to purchasing wind energy. This agreement is similar to a 2012 agreement the company made with its Oklahoma utility, the Grand River Dam Authority. The company also recently purchased the entire electricity output of four wind farms to support data operations in Hamina, Findland.

MidAmerican Energy will sell energy to Google’s Iowa data center, bundled and tracked by renewable energy certificates generated by projects that are part of its Wind VIII program. The wind energy will come from a few different farms.

The Google MidAmerican Energy relationship goes far back, to around 2007, when Google began building its Iowa data center. Google made a commitment to carbon neutrality in 2007 and has been a big advocate to the green movement. It’s size has allowed it to negotiate with power companies and convince them to go green. The company is making the process of using renewable energy easier for other companies by advocating for renewable energy tariffs.

Facebook also deserves kudos, as it used its leverage to convince MidAmerican Energy to power its data center with wind energy when it was negotiating for its data center in Iowa. MidAmerican is investing $1.9 billion in wind power generation, placing the largest order of onshore wind turbines to help meet these two tech giant’s demands.

Google has invested over $1 billion in 15 renewable energy investments around the world. The timing of this announcement coincides with Earth day, and follows recent praise on the part of Greenpeace.

If the Internet were a country, it’s electricity demand would rank sixth globally. Industry research estimates that Internet data will triple from 2012 to 2017, meaning the push is on to make sure renewable and green energy is powering the data centers storing this mountain of information.

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