Google Goes Green in Finland

Jun 6, 2013

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According to sources, the deal is a 10-year agreement allowing Google to purchase the energy for all its power and cooling needs while still providing access electrical generation that can be sold on the European grid. While this is not Google's first green energy project, it is their first in Europe. Google has already entered into three other agreements to meet power and cooling demand using green energy. Google's latest data centre will be located in Hamina, Finland — on the country's southern shore. When the Swedish wind farm is fully operational in 2015, its 24 turbines will have a maximum capacity of 73 MW. That's more than enough to power the data centre, with some to spare. German insurance giant Allianz has already guaranteed financing for the project. Now it's a matter of getting together all the permits and planning approvals. Construction is slated to get under way within the next several months. It should be noted that Google's contract with 02 indicates it will be purchasing the entire output of the wind farm for the next 10 years. It is that commitment from Google that made it possible for Allianz to provide the financing. The contract is good for Google in a couple of ways. First, reduced electricity rates will make it possible for them to recover the cost of construction and infrastructure development much more quickly. Second, the 10-year deal protects the company against regular price increases from one year to the next. The model has already proven to work for Google's bottom line as demonstrated by similar investments the company has previously made. To date they have pumped more than USD $1 billion into projects in Germany, South Africa, and the U.S.

Going Where the Wind Blows

The environment in northern Sweden seems to be ideal for the 24-turbine wind farm. In all likelihood, it will provide more than enough power for the new Finnish data centre. Yet while the IT industry generally supports Google in this endeavour, there is always this nagging doubt as to whether or not a 10-year commitment is wise. No one really knows where technology will take the IT industry over the next decade, especially as it relates to power consumption, efficiency and output. The Swedish wind farm will likely be up to the task; but what if it's not? Are there other plans in place if Google's power and cooling needs surpass the output of the wind farm? These are the kinds of things Google needs to prepare for during the construction phase. They will, of course… they didn't become the IT giant they are by being careless.