As I’ve been writing recently, solar power prices just keep on dropping. How much? Well, enough that it makes financial sense for Google to buy subsidy-free solar power in extremely northerly (i.e., grey) Denmark.
Denmark is not a sunny country. If you are familiar with the region, no commentary needed. If you are not but are familiar with the United States, think Alaska. Nonetheless, solar power is cheap.
Better Energy and Google were partners on this “zero-subsidy solar park” in Næstved, Denmark. Better Energy is actually contracted to build three new solar power parks in Denmark for Google, which is then buying the electricity under a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). Together, they will have a total capacity of 100 MWp. This first one in Næstved park is the largest of the three, with a capacity of 51 MWp. In 2021, 100 MWp would be a huge amount, but it’s a rather modest project in the gran scheme of things in 2020. Nonetheless, it’s enough for an enormous amount of electricity needs from Google, and the energy provided just from the Næstved power project will be enough for approximately 32,500 Danes’ needs.
The renewable energy capacity is being added in the same power market that Google’s upcoming data center in Fredericia is located in. “When companies add the same amount of energy to the market where they consume it, this is called true additionality,” a press release about the news noted.
According to Better Energy CEO Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær, companies can significantly impact the green transition in Denmark through their choice of energy supply:
“Our purpose is to advance the deployment of renewable energy as rapidly as possible and at the lowest cost possible. Today, large-scale solar parks are the most commercially scalable renewable energy potential available in Denmark,” said Better Energy CEO Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær. “Companies are the key when it comes to fully realising this potential. They really make a difference when they buy new green energy from our solar parks. Google’s commitment to contribute positively to the deployment of new renewable energy capacity in Denmark by buying new green energy from our solar parks is an act of sustainable leadership that is a prerequisite for the green transition.”
Google understands this well. It is reportedly “the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy” — 100% of Google’s energy consumption is matched by renewable energy generation. Google has actually been carbon neutral for more than a decade, since 2007. Nonetheless, Google Denmark CEO Malou Aamund says there’s much more to do:
“Denmark has really reached a milestone, as it’s now possible to construct solar parks unsubsidized. It speaks volumes about how far we are as a country in reducing carbon emissions, which is something to be proud of as a Dane.”
Solar Park + Nature
There is one more thing that’s particularly interesting about this new solar park — it is green. Like, green green. It has been built with minimal impact on the nature around it that is essentially cohabiting a wild natural area. “Solar is unique as a renewable power source,” Better Energy writes, “because it can combine clean energy production and native species and habitat conservation.”
“We are on a green journey to change the way our society is powered. We want to take full responsibility for the land we use in a wider context. For our solar park in Næstved, we have developed landscaping schemes that will create stepping stones for biodiversity,” Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær says. “Eight distinct biodiversity ’points of impact’ will be incorporated in the solar park to ensure nature has good opportunities to spread and thrive over the years. The landscaping of the Næstved site is carefully planned to accommodate people and nature.
“The climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are urgent matters. We have to take an integrated approach to uphold a livable planet and reverse trends. Our solar park in Næstved is an example for imitation that shows that we can solve some of the great challenges we face holistically. The production of green energy and biodiversity protection can be combined.”
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