Google Expands With a New Renewable Energy Data Center in Alabama

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Google is expanding its Internet power with a new renewable energy data center in Alabama. A data center plays a critical role in this Internet era. Every time someone accesses the Internet, surfing pages, watching a video or searching for the best local restaurant, a server within a data center is working on the background to make those things possible. Data centers are the Internet’s engines that are responsible for bringing the Web to people all over the world. As the number of Internet users is increasing, so is the need for more data centers.

Google runs the world’s dominant search engine on the Web, with other popular companies in its name, like video-sharing site YouTube, email service Gmail and the top mapping service. It owns the widely used mobile platform Android and produces Nexus mobile devices. Last month, it announced a photo app to serve as an online storage of digital photos for free.

Google data centers are in many parts of the globe. The company lately expanded by putting data centers in Belgium, Iowa, Singapore and Georgia. On Wednesday, it announced a new data center in Alabama, that will be Google’s 14th data center in the whole world, which includes six in the U.S. The Internet Search firm has built a data center in Finland on the location of a former paper mill.

Google is making another expansion, with a new renewable energy data center in Alabama. It will be built on Jackson County’s Widows Creek coal power plant. The power plant has been scheduled for shutdown and Google does not want to put its decade-old investment and infrastructure to waste and plans to re-purpose the existing electric source for a new data center to reliably serve more users around the world. Using renewable energy helps minimize pollution created by the global power demand. Google’s data centers in Iowa and Oklahoma are entirely running on wind power.

Widows Creek has been the source of power for the region since the 1960s. Tennessee Valley Authority in Stevenson owns this 350-acre site, which is located northeast of Huntsville, at about 60 miles. According to TVA officials, the site was decided to be closed by the board of directors of the utility earlier this year, following the tighter environmental and financial regulations by the Environment Protection Agency for coal-fired plants.

The site will be refurbished to power Internet services and contribute to bringing information to people all over the world. A senior climate and Greenpeace energy campaigner David Pomerantz commented that the site’s conversion from a dirty power source to a clean electricity type is a “poignant symbol of how quickly our energy economy can change for the better.”

The search titan can use the numerous electric transmission of the Widows Creek plants to bring lots of renewable energy. The company arranges with the TVA to have its electric utility scout new renewable energy projects and bring the power onto their electric grid. The goal is to power the Alabama data center with 100 percent renewable energy.

Google was among the first companies aside from the utility industry firms to purchase large amounts of renewable energy. It officially states that the company is the world’s biggest renewable energy buyer, buying an equivalent of more than 1.5 percent of the wind power capacity installed in the United States. The Mountain View, California-based Internet company is also glad to see other companies doing the same.

Google’s upcoming Alabama data center will have modern energy-efficient technologies, super-efficient servers and will invent more effective cooling systems. It will use advanced machines to maximize every watt consumption. Google said it will get 3.5 times more computing power from the same amount of energy.

Google expands with a new renewable energy data center in Alabama and its construction is set in 2016. The $600-million project will convert the old coal-burning power plant in Alabama to a sleek data center to fuel the computing capacity needed for Internet processes. Governor Robert Bentley said on Wednesday that the Alabama data center when completed, will create about 100 new jobs. This year, Fortune Magazine named Google as the best place to work.

By Judith Aparri

Sources:
Google Official Blog: A power plant for the Internet: our newest data center in Alabama
The Washington Times: Google building next data center at Alabama power plant site
Al.com: Want a job at Google’s new Alabama data center? Here’s what we know now
Great Place To Work: 2015 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Photo courtesy of Tony Webster‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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