Google transforms old coal-fired power plant to 100% renewable data center

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26 June 2015

NEW YORK: An old coal-fired power plant in the US will be soon reconverted to a 100% renewable energy-powered data center.

The announcement comes from tech giant Google, as part of its commitment to power all operations through renewable energy. So far, 46% of the company’s data centers benefit from clean energy.

The Widows Creek Fossil Plant near Stevenson, Alabama, US, will cease its activities this October “due to a changing regulatory and economic environment,” the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) states. Google reconversion is then highly symbolic of the inevitable shift toward a low carbon, prosperous economy based on renewables. On a more practical side, the new data center will benefit the already built transmission lines and water intakes for its clean power.

“Renewable energy is a solid investment for near and long term energy security. Google’s announcement brings the market closer to a low carbon future,” says Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director, The Climate Group. “Our RE100 campaign elevates the work of leadership brands committing to 100% renewable energy, and we encourage more announcements like these.”


Google’s commitment toward renewable energy mirrors that of many other influential companies that are part of The Climate Group’s program RE100, which encourages businesses go 100% renewable while sharing and showcasing their successes.

Companies already know that in a world with finite resources only those who grasp the potentiality of clean energy will succeed in the future market. However, to spur this clean revolution they must speak with one voice to be heard by policymakers. RE100 helps them report their achievements to demand an affordable, clean, reliable and guaranteed future power supply.

Google’s new data center – the 14th worldwide – will source its renewable power from TVA, pushing it through the already existing power lines. At the same time, the center will implement important energetic best practices such as energy-efficiency technology, through super-efficient servers and complex algorithms.

The company’s journey through a completely clean future comprise both of purchasing renewable energy near its data center – as in the case of Alabama – or installing its own clean plants in its campuses, such as the 1.7 MW solar plant at Mountain View. In addition, the company has funded over US$2 billion in renewable energy projects.

Many other companies are following this win-win strategy: the Swedish giant IKEA, one of the first to sign up to the RE100 program, has recently pledged €1 billion (US$1.13 billion) in climate-related actions. Last November, the company announced it has purchased a 165-megawatt wind farm in Texas, US. At the end of 2014, IKEA generated 1,425 gigawatt-hours of power from renewable sources, also thanks to the 165,000 solar panels installed on 90% of its buildings across the US.

“IKEA believes that the climate challenge requires bold commitment and action,” said Rob OlsonIKEA US Acting President and CFO. “We invest in renewable energy to become more sustainable as a business and also because it makes good business sense”.

The RE100 journey will take another important step this weekend, when project member Formula E will be in London. The all-electric motor race will conclude its first-ever championship after a 10-month tour around the world.

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