Google has agreed to purchase the entire output of the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas. The wind farm will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool, the regional grid that serves Google’s Mayes County, Okla., data center, according to a posting on Google’s blog.
Ultimately, the search engine company aims to power its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy.
The Texas agreement is Google’s largest wind purchase to date. The company has contracted for more than 570 MW of wind energy in total.
Chermac Energy is constructing the Happy Hereford wind farm, which is expected to start producing energy in late 2014. Google says that due to the current structure of the market, it can’t consume the wind energy produced by the wind farm directly.
“After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere,” says the blog posting.
In fact, Google has some pretty strong opinions about how the market works for purchasing renewable energy. In North Carolina, Google is working with its local electricity provider, Duke Energy, to develop a new program for large companies that want to buy renewable power for their operations.
And Google has penned a whitepaper, Expanding Renewable Energy Options for Companies Through Utility-Offered Renewable Energy Tariffs, in which it outlines an approach for a broad range of companies to buy large amounts of renewable power directly from electric utilities.
In Scandanavia, Google has committed to buying the entire output of a new Swedish wind farm for 10 years to power its Finnish data center. This arrangement is possible thanks to Scandinavia’s integrated electricity market and grid system, Nord Pool, which enables Google to buy the wind farm’s output in Sweden with Guarantee of Origin certification and consume an equivalent amount of power at its data center in Finland.
Photo credit: Fifth World Art’s Flickr photostream