Google to power data center with wind

By James Maynard , Jun 04, 2013 01:02 PM EDT

Google will be purchasing the entire output of a wind farm in Sweden to power a data center in Finland. This is Google's second renewable energy deal in the last seven days, and the first one in Europe.

Construction of the wind farm, built by the Swedish company O2, will be complete in 2015. The facility, located in Maevaara in northern Sweden, will sell the entire electrical production of 72 megawatts (MW) created by its 24 wind turbines to Google for the wind farm's first ten years.

Although the electricity produced from the wind farm will not power the data center directly, enough energy will be produced by the plant to offset the energy used by Google's center in Hamina, Finland. The renewable electricity produced will help supply the Nord Pool, a shared grid and electricity market in the Nordic region from which the Finnish data center will draw its power.

"As a carbon neutral company, we're always looking for ways to increase the amount of renewable energy we use. This long-term agreement, our fourth globally, means we can power our Finnish data center with clean energy - and add new wind generation capacity to the European grid," Urs Hölzle, senior vice-president of technical infrastructure at Google, said.

Google has been investing heavily into renewable energy sources - over one billion dollars so far. This includes $280 million dollars to finance residential solar panels in the United States, $200 million for a wind farm in Texas and a $12 million dollar investment made in a solar power system for South Africa. The company has reached three agreements so far to power data centers in the U.S. through the use of wind power.

Google's agreement made it possible for O2 to completely finance construction of the new plant with money made possible by Allianz, a German insurance firm. Allianz, Europe's largest insurer, will own the wind farm when construction is complete in 2015.

"We're delighted to be able to build yet another onshore wind farm, this time for Allianz and Google. We'll be using the latest generation 3MW turbines to ensure we get the maximum efficiency out of Maevaara's great wind conditions," Johan Ihrfelt, CEO of O2, said.

Google announced the new green energy contract on June 4.  

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