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

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.