Google has signed the most extensive purchase agreement for offshore wind energy to power its data centers in Europe. This initiative is part of Google’s ambitious plan to match all of its electricity consumption in data centers through clean energy generation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by 2030 .
As part of this commitment, the company is making investments in renewable energy sources, including offshore wind, with the aim of contributing more clean energy to the electrical grids in which it operates. Google is reportedly adding more than 700 MW of clean energy capacity to the European grid as part of its next move towards realizing this goal.
Google is taking significant steps towards the adoption of renewable energy solutions by signing power purchase agreements with the CrossWind and Ecowende consortia, joint ventures made up of energy companies Shell and Eneco . This announcement reflects Google’s commitment to its ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions across its operations and value chains by 2030.
The purpose of the offshore wind energy agreement
It is important to mention that the agreements focus on new offshore wind farms located in the Netherlands, where Google has two of its operational data centers. These offshore wind farms are projected to provide around 6% of the Netherlands’ total electricity consumption. In fact, one of these parks is already in operation, while the other is expected to come into operation in 2026.
Google has made notable progress in providing clean energy for its data centers. Thanks to recent power purchase agreements, Google’s data centers in the Netherlands are expected to reach a level of 90% clean energy use this year . In addition, the company has closed smaller agreements for the acquisition of renewable energy from wind and onshore solar farms located in Italy, Poland and Belgium.
Importantly, Google’s goal is to equalize its electricity consumption by purchasing carbon-free energy, rather than relying exclusively on renewable energy to operate its data centers. This is done considering that renewable sources represent only approximately 40% of the total electricity production in the Netherlands.
When technology companies proclaim that they use renewable energy, they are actually acquiring Renewable Energy Certificates (CER). These certificates are sold for each megawatt-hour of electricity generated by a renewable energy source, with proceeds going to support the creation of new clean energy projects. However, declining REC prices have posed a dilemma as they may not generate enough revenue to stimulate the development of new renewable energy projects. This situation could defeat the purpose of using renewable energies if they do not contribute to expanding the capacity of the electrical grid.
Google and other big tech companies are working to purchase carbon-free energy more frequently, locally, every hour rather than annually. This approach seeks to stimulate the local electrical grid to continuously generate and store more clean energy, representing a positive step towards reducing carbon emissions. This initiative could provide support to the offshore wind energy sector, which has seen an increase in costs, resulting in the cancellation of some projects in Europe and the United States, where Google has a prominent presence.
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