Google To Open New Data Center In Alabama


June 25, 2015 | The New York Times | Quentin Hardy

Plans to take a retired coal power plant in Jackson County, AL into the future were announced today by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The site will house Google’s new data center.

According to The New York Times, Google has also made a deal with the TVA to locate and bring online new renewable energy projects in the area:

 “Data centers are attractive customers” to power suppliers, said Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president for technical infrastructure.

In light of new EPA clean air rules that would require significant retrofits and investment in the Widow’s Creek coal-fired plant, the TVA board of directors approved a closure earlier this year. The new data center project will be ushered in with a $600 million investment from Google. Google has bought significant amounts of renewable energy since 2010.

Earlier this year Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson reported on ways data centers are going “green,” explaining that data center energy use is growing: “In 2013, data centers represented more than 2% of total US electricity consumption.” With their intent of re-purposing the existing coal plant infrastructure, Google is no exception.

Google has several data center expansions underway, in the U.S., Singapore and Belgium.

The investment also mitigates risk, according to Google’s Joe Kava, who leads data center construction:

 By having several construction projects underway…the chances of a shortfall in overall capacity from a slowdown at one project were minimized.

The selection of Widow’s Creek came after much research, and is part of a 100% renewable energy goal set by Google.