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Google Signs Up For Renewable Energy To Run Taiwan Data Center

Google has signed a PPA with solar energy companies in Taiwan to supply its local data center with 10 megawatts of zero emissions electricity. This is Google’s first renewable energy venture in Asia.

Google has signed a power purchase agreement for 10 megawatts of zero emissions power from a solar power plant located about 100 kilometers south of its Chuanghua County data center in Taiwan. According to TechCrunch, the Taiwan data center is one of two operated by Google in Asia. The other is in Singapore.

The new PPA represents a victory for the government of Taiwan, which is intent on shutting down its nuclear generating plants by 2025 and obtaining up to 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by that date. A recent change in the island nation’s Electricity Act makes it possible for non-utility companies to purchase renewable energy directly from a supplier.

The PPA is a collaboration between Google, the government, and several Taiwanese energy companies including Diode Ventures, Taiyen Green Energy, J&V Energy, and New Green Power. Google is the first major corporation to take advantage of the revised energy policy. One significant advantage of any PPA is that it locks in the price to be paid for electricity for the life of the contract, avoiding the vagaries of changes in the cost of fuels.

The solar power farm in Tainan City will feature a novel way of supporting the solar panels. They will be mounted on poles sunk deep into commercial fish farms, an arrangement that Marsden Hanna, Google’s senior lead of energy and infrastructure, says in a blog post will maximize land use and respect the local ecology because “fish and solar panels can coexist peacefully.” The fish farmers will be compensated for the use of their land and fish pools.

“As the Taiwanese government pursues further measures to remove market barriers and reduce renewable energy costs, we’re hopeful that more companies will purchase renewable energy, driving even larger projects across Taiwan,” Hanna says.

The issue of maximizing available land for solar production while avoiding the loss of land used for growing food is one that important for the future of solar energy. Germany’s Frauhofer Institute is finding new and innovative was of doing just that with combined solar and agriculture experiments in Chile and Vietnam. Congratulations to Google for moving forward with that idea.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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