Google goes renewable for Taiwan data centre
February 5, 2019
Google has signed a long-term agreement to purchase the output of a 10MW solar array, part of a larger solar farm, in Tainan City, Taiwan, to power its local data centre.
“Since 2010, we’ve signed on to more than 30 solar and wind projects across the Americas and Europe, making us the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy,” said Marsden Hanna, Google’s senior lead for energy and infrastructure, in a blog post. “Today we’re adding a fourth continent to our clean energy portfolio: Asia.”
The deal is a result of collaboration between Google, industry stakeholders and the Taiwanese government, which recently amended Taiwan’s Electricity Act to allow non-utility companies to buy renewable energy directly and decrease their carbon footprints.
“We’re the first corporate power purchaser to act on this renewables-friendly change to the law,” said Hanna.
Standing 40,000 solar panels strong, Google’s project in Taiwan will be located 100km south of its Changhua County data centre and connected to the same regional power grid. As the Taiwanese government pursues further measures to remove market barriers and reduce renewable energy costs, Google is hopeful that more companies will purchase renewable energy, driving even larger projects across Taiwan.
Google’s effort to add more renewable energy in Taiwan builds on its longstanding collaboration with governments and utilities worldwide to make clean power more accessible. In 2013, it worked hand-in-hand with North Carolina electricity provider Duke Energy to develop a programme that enables companies to source power from local solar farms. Similarly, last year it finalised an arrangement with the US state of Georgia that allows corporations to buy renewable energy directly through the state’s largest electric utility.
For Google, the solar purchase agreement provides a long-term and fixed electricity price to support its operations in Taiwan; it will also boost the carbon-free profile of its local data centre.
“It’s a step in the right direction for grid reliability and Taiwan’s broader energy supply mix, which the government wants to expand and make more renewable in the coming years,” said Hanna. “Thanks to our development partners Diode Ventures, Taiyen Green Energy, J&V Energy and New Green Power, the project will have a unique design and community impact.”
Poles will be mounted into commercial fishing ponds (pictured) to elevate solar panels into the sky. This set-up will increase land-use efficiency, which is important in a densely populated region, and respect local ecology so fish and solar panels can coexist peacefully. It will also generate local economic benefits as the fishing community will be compensated for hosting solar panels on its ponds.
“Our inaugural renewable energy project in Asia is an encouraging example of what’s possible when forward-thinking government officials, local stakeholders and companies work together for a brighter future,” said Hanna. “A policy landscape offering a clear path to cost-effective renewable power procurement is essential as more people and more organisations look to access carbon-free energy. We applaud Taiwan for giving the green light to green energy initiatives like ours, the first of hopefully many more in the region.”