It's hardly a surprise that Google is building a new data center to support its ever expanding empire. But rather than building from scratch on a green-field site the company will convert a coal-burning plant into a renewable energy-powered data center.
Google's 14th data center will be built on the grounds of the Widows Creek coal power plant in Jackson County, Ala., a plant which has been scheduled for shutdown.
The power plant wasn't chosen purely for environmental reasons, though. Google said in a blog post that it can repurpose a lot of the electric components and other infrastructure for use in the new center. "There's a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal power plants," read the blog post. "Decades of investment shouldn't go to waste just because a site has closed."
The new data center will run on renewable energy brought in on the old plant's transmission lines. Google has made an agreement with its electricity provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority, to scout new renewable energy projects and bring the power onto their electrical grid, in an effort to ultimately be completely powered by green energy.
As you might expect, the new data center will feature energy-saving measures like extremely power-efficient servers, new cooling methods and will even use machine learning to help cut down on electricity consumption.
The Widows Creek power plant is scheduled for decommissioning in October and Google expects to start construction of the site in the new year. The company has recently announced plans to build new data centers in Iowa, Georgia, Singapore and Belgium which are built on more traditional sites, but Widows Creek isn't the first time a novel location has been used. In 2011, Google opened a seawater-cooled data center on the site of an old paper mill in Finland.
The massive expansion of data centers shows just how much Google's products and services are growing. New customers around the world are coming online everyday and Google is always releasing new products, but we're also using existing products more and uploading more images and video than ever to the cloud. All of this data needs to be physically stored and backed up in these new data centers.
The Jackson County data center will be Google's seventh in the United States. The other seven centers are located in Belgium, Chile, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore and Taiwan.