A coal fired power plant in rural Alabama will be converted into a renewable energy powered data centre and expand Google’s move into the energy space.

Google announced its plan to open its 14th data centre in the plant’s grounds on Wednesday 24 June 2015. They have also reached a deal with the power company Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to supply the project with renewable electricity.

Michael Terrell, head of Energy Market Strategy for Google’s Infrastructure team said at the launch that they saw clear benefits in the old coal facility given its existing transmission lines and water intakes which could be incorporated into the data centre powered by renewable energy.

Approximately 46% of Google’s data centres are powered by renewable energy and therefore it has some work to do to catch up with Apple, which has all of its data centres powered by renewable energy according to Greenpeace. Google hasn’t set a date by which they will go 100% renewable although that is their commitment. Three of its data centres-North and South Carolina and Georgia are still heavily reliant on nuclear and coal power.

In addition to using industrial sites in the US, Google is doing likewise in Finland where an old paper mill was refurbished into a data centre. The Alabama power plant has been in operation since 1952 and was scheduled to scale down later this year partly due to incoming environmental regulations.

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