Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been nothing if not an alternative-energy warrior, working tirelessly to use alternative and renewable sources of energy whenever possible - especially when it comes to its data centers, which have been notorious for using up large amounts of energy simple because those centers contain the servers that an online company must have online and functional 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Data centers in general have been criticized recently for their energy consumption, most notably in a New York Times piece. And that story has been criticized itself, and at the very least questioned by people like Rick Needham, who directs the energy and sustainability division of Google Inc. (NASDA:GOOG). He said, “There was no distinction between smaller companies running their own server closet, which really isn’t very efficient, versus cloud service providers like Google. (Also,) there was really no mention about renewable energy (and) actually sourcing your power itself from a renewable source.”
Renewable energy has been a focal point for Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) for a few years now, and the company has been moving ahead with linking to wind power for energy sources at a couple of data centers. The most recent step for Google in this area is a 10-year deal with the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma to provide 48 megawatts of wind-generated power to its data center in Mayes County, Okla. This power will come from a 300-megawatt wind farm currently being built just outside Oklahoma City and due to go online by the end of the year.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has done these wind deals before, but it had been an energy broker - paying utilities for the power, then selling wholesale onto the grid to replace the energy the company uses in its data centers. This recent deal, however, is the first for the company where it s getting energy directly from a utility. “We’ve been building very efficient data centers for a very very long time,” Needham said. “But efficiency is just one part of what we do.”
Alternative energy is expensive and takes significant investment, but Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) sees value in its investments. Perhaps investors in Google stock, like hedge-fund manager Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management LLC, can see the value in Google being more environmentally sensitive.