A first for corporates in Taiwan: Google buys its own renewable energy

A Google data centre

Google is supporting its first Asian renewable energy project, with an innovative solar park elevated over fish ponds to supply energy for its data centre in Tainan City, Taiwan. The 10MW solar farm will be financed and developed by Diode Ventures, a Black & Veatch company, and will help expand Google’s position as the world’s largest purchaser of renewable energy. Black & Veatch, a global provider of renewable energy solutions, will provide owner’s engineering and construction management (OECM) services while consultant New Green Power will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), and operations and maintenance (O&M) services for the 40,000-panel project. Enfinite Capital will support financial assembly and asset management services.

The project was made possible through the efforts of Google, and other companies seeking renewable energy solutions, and the Taiwanese government. Taiwan recently amended its Electricity Act to allow non-utility companies to directly buy renewable energy and decrease their carbon footprints. Google is the first corporate power purchaser to act on this renewables-friendly change to the law.

“The economics of sustainability and resilience are reshaping how leading companies view investments in renewable energy,” said Brad Hardin, President of Diode Ventures. “We’re proud to work with our partners to help make clean power more accessible in Asia.”

Positive community impact and an effort to maximize land-use efficiency were key factors in determining the design and scope of the project. The project uses an innovative solar panel arrangement elevating each panel several feet above the surface of local fish farm ponds. The approach respects local ecology of fish ponds with negligible impact on the fish while creating a revenue stream for the fishing community hosting the panels.

“Rising demand for zero-emission renewable energy continues to reshape power markets and traditional approaches to providing electricity services,” said Dave Leligdon, Global Director of Black & Veatch’s renewable energy group. “This project represents a critical first step in how companies operating in Taiwan are approaching sustainability goals as part of their long-term strategic growth plans.”

“Our first renewable energy project in Asia is an encouraging case study of what’s possible when forward-thinking government officials, local stakeholders, and companies work together for a brighter future,” said Marsden Hanna, Senior Lead, Energy & Infrastructure, at Google.

Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure, Google

According to Google, the firm is now the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power: “[We have] commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back in time,” says Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure, Google, on the company’s website.

“This innovative project is fresh evidence of renewable energy’s rising prominence in the global power mix,” said Jerome Tan, Chief Investment Officer at New Green Power. “We are excited to bring our established EPC capabilities to delivering solar at a large scale and in Taiwan, with a government that is committed to a sustainable future.”

Separately, Black & Veatch was selected to explore the installation of floating solar panels at Hong Kong’s 17 impounded reservoirs under a feasibility study being carried out for the Water Supplies Department of the Hong Kong SAR. Development of large scale floating solar farms could help Hong Kong reduce water loss, suppress algae growth and generate power from renewable resources, says the firm.

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