Google Amps Up Renewable Energy Investment with 240 MW of Wind Power

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Google announced on Tuesday that it bought 240 megawatts (MW) of wind power from a wind farm in Texas. The company is buying the entire output from the "Happy Hereford" wind farm outside of Amarillo.


A Stock Wind Generator Photo from Shutterstock (Because It Looks Cool)

Google and Apple have both been aggressive in sourcing their energy needs from renewable sources, but the two companies have gone about it in different ways. While Apple has bought some local power in North Carolina from third parties selling renewable energy, the company has also built its own solar farms and fuel cells to power its data center in the state.

Google, on the other hand, has made major commitments to buy power from third parties. Including the 240 MW announced on Tuesday, Google is buying some 570 MW from wind power suppliers, enough to power 170,000 homes, according to the company's blog post. It's the fifth contract—and the largest by far—that Google has entered.

The Happy Hereford wind farm is being developed by Chermac Energy, and Google said it will begin producing power in late 2014. The power will specifically power a Google data center in Mayes County, Oklahoma.

Technically, the energy is going into a specific power grid—the Southwest Power Pool (SPP)—and can't be channeled only to Google's data center, but that's the way most commitments to buying renewable energy work. It's a by-product of the power grid system used in the U.S., and it could be one reason why Apple has built its own solar farms and fuel cells for some of its major facilities.

Either way, it's a significant commitment to wind power from Google and a major step in the search and advertising giant's efforts to use renewable energy for its facilities.


Lee Dronick

Happy Hereford, juice from contented cows


MW are not a unit of energy…..
Perhaps you mean MWh?


Or you could say “power” instead of “energy”, Bryan.

Since they are buying the entire output of the wind farm they are buying power. How much energy they actually get depends on the wind.  wink

Ray Martin

this is a bit of a cop out by google. why not connect the turbines direct to their plants ? all they are doing is sucking subsidies out of the system for their own benefit. there is no positive environmental impact from this - if they want to make a positive impact , connect directly and shut down the diesel generators. They need to show what fossil fuel generators is being replaced as a result of the turbines - being environmentally conscious is not as simple as buying a wind farm. That solves absolutely nothing - except making them some money out of billpayers pockets.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for the assist, folks. John Martellaro also chimed in to help me straighten out my use of energy and power, and the article has been edited accordingly.

Bryan Chaffin

Ray, from my perspective the big thing here is that Google is paying the higher cost of wind power produced by this facility and ensuring that said power makes it into the localized grid (Texas has that whole “we’re not part of the national grid” thing going on).

Large corporations paying for wind energy does have an impact on the system.

It’s not as direct as hooking up those windmills to their server farm directly, but if it was that or nothing, it would most likely be nothing. There’s no way Google could trust a major server farm to a single wind installation.

Ray Martin

what conventional generation is this replacing ? if the answer is none, then google are just paying lip service to greenism to look good.

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