Google, Duke Join in Sourcing Data Center Power from New NC Solar Facility

Data Centers are among the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States. According to NDRC, data centers are one of the “key drivers in the construction of new power plants.”  In 2013, US data centers required the equivalent of 34 large (500MW) coal plants, and is on track to hit 50 by 2020. This coincides with global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

91Billion kWh of electricity consumed by US data centers in 2013.  More than enough electricity to power all of New York City twice.

140Billion kWh of electricity projected demand for US data centers by 2020. The same as 50 large coal plants.

Working closely with Duke Energy, Google has secured clean, renewable electricity from what is expected to be one of North Carolina’s largest solar power generation facilities. Google and Duke on November 24 announced they had agreed to the terms and conditions that will enable Duke to deliver electrical power from the 61-MW Rutherford Farms LLC solar PV facility under construction in Rutherford County across Burke to Google’s Lenoir data center in Caldwell County.

The solar power distribution agreement was undertaken under the umbrella of Duke Energy’s Green Source Rider program. Approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission in 2013, the program facilitates large Duke customers securing renewable power supplies.

Duke’s power purchase agreement with Rutherford Farms LLC will enable project developer Cypress Creek Renewables to move forward with project construction. Led by tax equity finance specialists, Cypress Creek has invested some $1.3 billion in amassing a portfolio of solar power projects with 2-GW of capacity that’s sufficient to supply 1.5 million average US homes with clean, renewable electrical power.

Google Working with Utilities to Develop Innovative Solar Financing Pathways

Google began working with Duke to create the Green Source Rider program in 2013 at the same time it announced it would invest $600 million to expand its data center in Lenoir.

“Google was a driver behind Duke Energy seeking approval for the Green Source Rider,” Rob Caldwell, SVP, Distributed Energy Resources at Duke Energy, was quoted in the news release. “Having Google as the first company to publicly announce its participation is extremely satisfying. We believe this will lead to similar announcements in the future.”

Google and other utility customers benefit from programs such as Green Source Rider because they allow large consumers, such as Google data centers, to buy large amounts of renewable power directly from utilities without any additional costs to other ratepayers, Gary Demasi from Google’s Data Center Energy and Location team explained in Google Green’s announcement.

¨We were an early advocate of such programs and are pleased to see they have been adopted in 10 states, from Virginia to Washington. By working closely with providers like Duke, we’re now able to benefit from North Carolina’s emerging solar energy industry and pave the way for other big customers to do the same,¨ he continued.

This is the first time that we’re purchasing solar power in enough volume to power one of our data centers and it takes us another step towards our goal to eventually power 100% of our operations with renewable energy.

Gary Demasi, Google
Google greening-our-power 1115

 

Google was one of 13 leading US corporations to take the American Business Act on Climate Pledge at the White House this past July. In doing so, Google publicly pledged to power all its data centers with electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025.

 

Bonus: Inside a Google Data Center

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