As the size and complexity of data centers continue to grow, energy consumption grows right along with it. In response, tech companies like Google
and Microsoft are implementing wide-scale
renewable energy installations to ensure a
reliable energy supply that doesn’t overtax
Google is on track to reach 100% renewable energy for all of its global operations
this year, including offices and data centers.
The company is purchasing 2.6 GW of wind
and solar energy from 20 renewable energy
projects, enough to account for all of the
electricity its operations consume. Google
also plans to branch out with additional
renewable energy sources this year.
HOW MICROSOFT AND
GOOGLE PLAN TO REACH
100% RENEWABLE ENERGY
“Electricity costs are one of the largest
components of operating expenses at our
data centers,” says Urs Holzle, Senior Vice
President of Technical Infrastructure for
Google. “Having a long-term stable cost of
renewable power provides protection against
price swings in energy.”
Microsoft derives roughly 44% of its
electricity consumption from a mix of wind,
solar and hydropower and aims to achieve
50% by 2018 and 60% by the early 2020s. It
recently announced a 237 MW data center in
Cheyenne, WY, that will be powered entirely
by wind energy. The wind installation also
allowed the local utility, Black Hills Energy,
to avoid increasing rates for taxpayers to
account for the additional load.
“Traditionally, when presented with a constraint on the system relating to reliability,
load growth or intermittent generation, a
utility had one option – building new infrastructure,” says Brad Smith, President and
Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft. “Microsoft
approached Black Hills Energy with a new
solution to deliver reliability without additional costs for ratepayers. A new tariff available to all eligible customers lets the utility
use the data center’s backup generators as
a secondary resource for the entire grid. The
natural gas turbines offer a more efficient
solution than traditional diesel backup generators and ensure that the utility avoids
building a new power plant.”
Which States Are
the Most Efficient?
CALIFORNIA AND MASSACHUSETTS
TIE FOR THE TOP SPOT IN ANNUAL
ENERGY EFFICIENCY RANKING
Energy efficiency initiatives con- tinue to make inroads in several states, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in its annual
State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
In the 10th edition of the ranking, the organization measures the progress of state policies and programs that encourage lower energy consumption. California and Massachusetts
tied for first overall, with Vermont, Rhode
Island, Connecticut and New York all rounding
out the top five. The most-improved states
were Missouri, Maine and Michigan.
The rankings are based on six primary policy areas: utility and public benefits programs,
transportation, building energy codes, combined heat and power (CHP), state govern-ment-led initiatives around energy efficiency,
and appliance and equipment standards.
California’s status was reinforced by a
strong national presence in setting appliance standards, having adopted standards
for more than 100 energy-saving products.
In addition, the Golden State became the
first state to adopt LED standards, while
also updating standards for HVAC air filters,
fluorescent dimming ballasts and heat pump
Massachusetts is no stranger to energy
efficiency, as it topped the rankings in 2014
and 2015. The state has a strong incentive program to encourage energy-efficient
upgrades and is committed to rebate savings
programs to bring operating costs down.