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Sweet Home Alabama: Google Turns to Old Power Plant for New Data Center

June 26, 2015
As part of its continued effort to soon be completely powered by renewable energy sources, Google will convert an old coal-burning power plant into its 14th cloud-powering data center.

Google announced this week that it will convert a former coal-burning power plant in Alabama into a data center using renewable energy. It will be the first Google data center built on the site of a former coal-burning power plant.

“Data centers need a lot of infrastructure to run 24/7, and there’s a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal power plants,” Google data center energy and location strategy manager Patrick Gammons said in a blog post.

The facility will be Google’s 14th data center worldwide to feed a seemingly insatiable appetite for applications or services hosted in the Internet cloud.

Google said that it is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority to deliver electricity from renewable sources for the data center built on the site of the Widows Creek power plant in Alabama.

About five years ago, Google became one of the first companies outside the utility industry to buy large amounts of renewable energy and has since become the largest corporate consumer of that kind of power in the world, according to Gammons.

The California-based tech titan has a stated goal of being completely powered by renewable energy sources.

“Google’s data center in Alabama is a poignant symbol of how quickly our energy economy can change for the better,” said Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner David Pomerantz.

He pointed to Google’s move as proof that major internet companies want to power facilities with renewable energy and called on U.S. legislators and regulators to take notice.

“Unfortunately, Amazon’s recent announcement of several new data centers in Ohio did not include the same commitment to power them with 100% renewable energy,” Pomerantz said. “Without a similar level of commitment as we’ve seen from Google, Apple and Facebook, Amazon’s data centers are more likely to keep coal plants running than to make the Internet a powerful force for renewable energy.”

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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