Google Signs Wind Farm Deals To Power Finnish Data Centre

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The 10-year deals include buying the entire output from a planned wind farm in western Finland, as corporate demand for renewables continues to rise

Google said it has signed 10-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) to buy power from three new wind farms in Finland, as big technology companies continue to search for renewable energy sources for energy-hungry facilities such as massive data centres.

The three farms, with a combined capacity of 190 megawatts (MW), are to be built by France’s Neoen and Germany’s CPC and WPD.

Google said the deals are its first that will not be subsidised by government grants in Europe.

“In a growing number of locations, the cost of new renewable energy is competitive with the cost of power from the grid,” said Google’s head of EU energy, Marc Oman, in a blog post.

Google’s data centre in Hamina, Finland. Image credit: Google

Renewables in demand

The online search and ad giant has now signed 14 PPAs in Europe amounting to almost 900 MW of wind and solar capacity.

The three Finnish wind farms are set to provide power to the grid linked to Google’s data centre in Hamina, on the Baltic Sea’s Gulf of Finland near the Russian border and a short distance from St Petersburg.

The Google facility is located in a former paper mill built in the 1950s and draws on the waters of the Baltic for cooling.

Google said last year it had achieved its goal of purchasing the same number of megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy as it consumes in all its worldwide operations.

As the company continues to grow it needs to buy additional renewable power to maintain the 100 percent renewable level, Google said.

PPAs, which allow companies to buy energy directly from the provider, also mean a fixed price for a number of years, and Google said the instrument is in part a way to reduce its exposure to volatile fuel prices.

Market dynamics

Neoen said Google is buying the entire output of its 81 MW Hedet wind farm in Finland, of which it owns 80 percent, the remainder being owned by Prokon Finland.

The 18-turbine Hedet farm is located in Narpes, in western Finland on the Gulf of Bothnia.

Neoen’s first site in Finland, it is expected to begin construction at the end of this year and to be completed by the end of 2019.

New wind power installations across Europe dropped by more than one-quarter in the first half of 2018 to 4.5 gigawatts (GW), according to industry group WindEurope, as governments phase out subsidies.

Last year the number of new corporate PPAs for renewables, mainly wind and solar power, reached a record of more than 5 GW, almost one-third higher than the 2016 level, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

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