Google Reveals 14th Major Data Centre Will Be Built On Coal Power Plant

Google will spend £381 million on renovating Alabama power station into ‘green’ data centre

Google will build a massive data centre on the site of a coal power plant in Jackson County, Alabama.

The Widows Creek coal station is set to be shut down imminently, with Google planning to splash $600m to redevelop the site into its fourteenth major data centre.


“Data centres 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,” said Patrick Gammons, Google’s senior manager of data center energy.

“Decades of investment shouldn’t go to waste just because a site has closed; we can repurpose existing electric and other infrastructure to make sure our data centres are reliably serving our users around the world.”

Google, much like cloud rival Amazon, said that it has the ultimate goal of one day powering its cloud facilities with 100 percent renewable energy. Google said that it will be using Widows Creek’s existing power lines to bring in renewable energy to the site, in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Google claims that it is the world’s largest corporate renewable energy purchaser, and used the blog post that announced the data centre build to highlight its green credentials.

data centreThe announcement comes at a time when renewable energy for data centres is a hot topic. Last month, an annual Greenpeace report into the state of renewables for cloud computing showed that Apple and Google do idneed lead the race when it comes to having a green cloud. However, firms such as Amazon and Microsoft lag slightly behind, with the report arguing that Amazon, with its cloud computing division AWS, needs to be more transparent in its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy.

“Of course, the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use. Our Alabama data centre will incorporate our state-of-the-art energy efficiency technologies,” said Gammons. “We’ve built our own super-efficient servers, invented more efficient ways to cool our data centres, and even used advanced machine learning to squeeze more out of every watt of power we consume. Compared to five years ago, we now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of energy.”

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