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How Google Continues to Power Carbon-Free Energy in Arizona

Data Centre Magazine

Google prioritizes sustainability by launching an eight-year clean energy pact across Arizona as it aims to support local needs close to its data center

Following the launch of its first Arizona data center in Mesa, Google has announced an energy supply agreement with Salt River Project (SRP).

The tech giant aims to support more than 430 megawatts of new carbon-free energy capacity across the state. This is designed, according to Google’s projections, to help operations in Arizona reach at least 80% carbon-free energy on an hourly basis by 2026.

This comes shortly after Google announced that it would be working to expand its data center presence around the world, having bought numerous locations for new facilities across the United States (US).

Supporting local sustainability initiatives

Google’s new agreement follows the launch of its Mesa data center, which is expected to become operational in 2025. The agreement will involve bringing wind and solar energy to the local electricity grid in Arizona, in addition to supporting local programes to plant trees and increase educational opportunities.

Interestingly, the new data center will use air cooling technology instead of the popular sustainability solution of liquid cooling. This is because Google has found the local water source in Arizona was at risk of depletion and scarcity – as per its new responsible water framework that considers the water-related risks of every data center site it operates.

Additionally, the agreement includes a mix of wind power, solar energy and battery storage from three facilities operated by NextEra Energy Resources on SRP’s power grid.

“With this new agreement, we are not just offsetting our energy use, but also actively working to add carbon-free energy capacity directly to Arizona’s grid when and where it’s needed,” says Amanda Peterson Corio, Global Head of Data Center Energy at Google. “The collaboration with SRP and NextEra Energy Resources is accelerating decarbonization in Arizona and our own carbon-free journey in the region.”

She adds: “Helping advance the transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free energy sources is necessary as we work together to address the climate crisis and ensure stable, affordable access to clean energy.”

Working to be carbon-free by 2030

When it comes to its data centers, Google has been very clear about its sustainability efforts. In 2020, the company set a goal for its sites to run on 24/7 carbon-free energy on every grid where it operates by 2030.

The company owns and operates data centers globally, aiming to have facilities that are some of the most high-performing, secure and efficient in the world. It is keen to advance sustainability efforts in line with innovation, having recently partnered with Danish multinational engineering group Danfoss to better leverage generative AI (Gen AI) for energy efficiency.

In addition to being environmentally-conscious, Google is very keen to invest in the areas it operates in. “Supporting communities where we operate is a top priority,” Google says in its announcement. “Planting trees in communities has a range of benefits including providing shade that can reduce home energy bills and urban heat, supporting local food production and increasing biodiversity.”

At the Mesa data center, the company has provided US$100k in support of the Mesa College Promise, helping qualified high school students and adult learners in the community pursue higher education with free tuition.

Google also comments: “We’re partnering with Mesa’s Shade Tree Program to fund four tree-planting workshops, resulting in 600 new trees every year.”

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