Happy Earth Day 2011!
I was hoping to add solar panels to my home this Spring but the local vendor never got back to me. After crunching some numbers, with current solar panel prices/efficiency, electricity usage, and incentive rebates I decided to put the extra money towards the mortgage as a wiser investment. I’ll be looking to install solar panels at a later date but for now I have already reduced my carbon footprint significantly by changing jobs to a much closer location.
Fortunately for the Earth, Google has a little bit more cash to spread around. Just this month, they’ve reported that they have made huge investments in both solar power and wind-generated electricity. This is in addition to their investment last October in a transmission network off the U.S. East coast to transmit electricity generated from offshore wind turbines across Virginia, New York, and New Jersey.
Google’s $168 million investment in a solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert is a great step towards increasing the amount of renewable energy generated as the largest solar project in the world. It will provide 392 MW of solar energy over the course of its life. The plant will use some interesting technology to maximize its ability to generate power which you can read more about at the Official Google Blog post.
On Monday, Google announced they have also invested $100 million in wind generation, also via the Official Google Blog. They have invested in Shepherds Flat Wind Farm near Arlington, Oregon which will produce 845 MW of electricity.
This project brings our total invested in clean energy to more than $350 million, including our most recent investments in a German solar photovoltaic plant and in the BrightSource Ivanpah solar power tower—the largest solar energy project in the world. We’re excited about helping deliver clean energy to the grid and we hope this latest investment encourages other companies to think about ways they can help accelerate the deployment of more renewable energy. We remain on the lookout for more projects that make business sense and will help all of us take advantage of clean, renewable energy.
Yesterday, Google announced their third big purchase in the renewable energy industry this month. Google has agreed to purchase all of the energy generated by the Oklahoma-based Minco II wind farm through Google Energy LLC. This subsidiary company allows Google to participate in the wholesale energy market. To explain Google’s involvement in the renewable industry and their thoughts behind their current steps, they’ve published a white paper (.pdf) that might be of interest to some.
We’ve made the commitment to be a carbon neutral company, and this purchase is part of our effort to minimize our impact on the environment. We’ve managed to reduce our energy consumption by over 50 percent by building highly energy-efficient facilities, but we know that efficiency alone isn’t enough to eliminate our carbon footprint. We’ve been exploring ways, such as this PPA, to reduce emissions further by increasing the amount of renewable energy we use to power our operations; we purchase high-quality carbon offsets for any remaining emissions.
Google also has a project called RechargeIT.org on-going to invest in electric and more environmentally-friendly vehicles. In addition to the RechargeIT program, they are also helping the adoption of these vehicles by listing electrical vehicle charging stations on Google Maps.
Data Center Energy Usage
Peer1 Hosting has created an interesting infographic showing the energy demands of data centers from top sites online like Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, WordPress.com, Plenty of Fish, and Peer1 Hosting. You can see the full infographic here or by clicking on the thumbnail below.
By better understanding the energy needs of data centers, we can better address the problem while still understanding the needs for high availability, speed, cooling, and around the clock requests.