Google will convert coal plant to data center

Google’s plan to convert a coal-fired Alabama power plant into a green-powered data center is earning accolades from environmental groups and the Southern state’s political establishment.

Not long after making national news Wednesday morning for ordering the removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley hopped over to Jackson County in northeast Alabama, to the grounds of the Widows Creek power plant, for a celebratory press conference announcing Google’s $600 million conversion project which will create the search giant’s 14th data processing center.

As AL.com reported last month, the power plant is scheduled for final closure in October after years of shutting down units in phases.

“At Widows Creek, we can use the plants’ many electric transmission lines to bring in lots of renewable energy to power our new data center,” said Patrick Gammons, Google’s senior manager of data center energy and location strategy, in a blog post. “Thanks to an arrangement with Tennessee Valley Authority, our electric utility, we’ll be able to scout new renewable energy projects and work with TVA to bring the power onto their electrical grid.”

Greenpeace called the move “a poignant symbol of how quickly our energy economy can change for the better,” and contrasted Google’s commitment to power the data center with renewable energy with other companies that haven’t shown the same green effort.

“Unfortunately, Amazon’s recent announcement of several new data centers in Ohio did not include the same commitment to power them with 100% renewable energy,” said a written statement from Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner David Pomerantz. “Without a similar level of commitment as we’ve seen from Google, Apple, and Facebook, Amazon’s data centers are more likely to keep coal plants running than to make the internet a powerful force for renewable energy.”

Above: The Widows Creek plant in Alabama. (Photo courtesy Google)

 

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