Running the cloud-based computing services that companies like Google offers is extremely energy-intensive. Fortunately for us, the energy-hungry companies that run these services seem more than willing to operate their data centers without using fossil fuels.
In 2017 Google switched from just offsetting emissions with renewable generation to committing to eventually powering operations with “clean, zero-carbon energy” around the clock. That meant investing in renewable energy production in all the regions where it operates rather than using wind, solar, or hydropower in some regions to compensate for emissions in others.
Now Google is pushing further after announcing a bid for the largest global deal for batter-backed solar energy in Nevada. The company wants to use energy generated by a planned 350MW solar plant combined with up to 280MW of battery storage to power its upcoming $600 million data center in Henderson, a suburb just south of Las Vegas.
This is a big deal because it will bring us one step closer to actually being able to power data centers 365 days using only renewable energy—or at least, data centers in sunny places like Nevada. For areas such as northern Europe, we are still in need of entirely different kinds of energy storage that can store multiple days or weeks of power even when there’s very little sun or wind.