This week Google announced that it is making a huge investment in renewable energy in Asia.
The global search giant has committed to more than 30 wind and solar projects across the Americas and Europe since 2010 – making it the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy – but this is its first project in Asia.
It consists of a long-term agreement to purchase the output of a 10-megawatt solar array (which is part of a larger solar farm) in Taiwan's Tainan City.
The deal came about after a collaboration agreement between Google, industry stakeholders, and the Taiwanese government. Google is the first corporate power purchaser to capitalise on the government's recently amended Electricity Act, which now allows non-utility companies to directly buy renewable energy and decrease their carbon footprints with an eye to a renewable future.
“Standing 40,000 solar panels strong, our project in Taiwan will be located 100 kilometres south of our Changhua County data center and connected to the same regional power grid,” says Google Energy - Infrastructure senior lead Marsden Hanna.
“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 investment in Taiwan is part of a larger commitment where it has worked with governments and utilities worldwide to make clean power more accessible – particularly given how power-hungry data centers are.
Another initiative for Google is that it will benefit from a long-term and fixed electricity price to support its operations in Taiwan, while boosting the carbon-free profile of its local data center.
In addition, Google asserts the government is looking to up its grid reliability and its broader energy supply mix, which the solar farm investment will no doubt bolster.
Google has worked with a number of development partners in Taiwan including Diode Ventures, Taiyen Green Energy, J-V Energy, and New Green Power to produce an undoubtedly unique design.
There will be poles mounted into commercial fishing ponds to elevate the solar panels several feet into the sky, which Google says will maximise land-use efficiency (which is particularly important in a densely populated nation like Taiwan), respect local ecology by allowing fish and solar panels to co-exist with no disruption, and generate local economic benefits as the fishing community will be compensated for hosting the solar panels on its ponds.
“Our inaugural renewable energy project in Asia is an encouraging example of what's possible when forward-thinking government officials, local stakeholders and companies work together for a brighter future,” says Hanna.
“A policy landscape offering a clear path to cost-effective renewable power procurement is essential as more people and more organizations look to access carbon-free energy. We applaud Taiwan for giving the green light to green energy initiatives like ours—the first of hopefully many more in the region.