More Swedish wind power for our Finnish data centre

We’re keen to make sure that our data centres around the world use as much renewable energy as possible. By entering into long-term agreements with wind farm developers over the past few years, we’ve been able to increase the amount of renewable energy we consume while helping enable the construction of new facilities.

Today we announced that we’ve signed a new power purchase agreement (PPA) in Sweden (our second such agreement there in less than 12 months). We will buy the entire electricity output of four as-yet-unbuilt wind farms in southern Sweden, at a fixed price, for the next ten years.

Windfarm developer Eolus Vind will build four wind farms, in Alered, Mungseröd, Skalleberg and Ramsnäs, Sweden. The 29-turbine project, with a total combined capacity of 59MW, already has all relevant planning approvals and permits and will become fully operational in early 2015.

Picture: Our seawater-cooled data centre in Hamina, Finland

Once completed, the wind farms will provide Google’s Hamina, Finland, data centre with additional renewable energy as the facility expands in coming years.

Buying renewable energy in Sweden and consuming it in Finland is possible thanks to Europe’s increasingly integrated power markets, in particular the Nord Pool spot market. This allows Google to buy renewable energy with Guarantee of Origin certification in Sweden, “retire” the certificates and then consume an equivalent amount of power elsewhere in Europe.

This marks our sixth long-term agreement to purchase renewable energy. We keep signing these contracts for two main reasons: they make great financial sense for us, and increase the amount of renewable energy available in the grid, which is great for the environment too.

Posted by Francois Sterin, Director, Global Infrastructure Team
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Slovakia’s Eagle flies high with the Internet

It has been an audacious flight, monitored and protected by the Internet. Slovakia’s Lesser Spotted Eagle risked extinction until the Slovak Ministry of Environment and the Tatra National Park launched an ambitious preservation project. Under the seven year old program, young eagles are fitted with transmitters and systematically monitored. This year, we partnered with the Ministry and the National park, offering Google Earth to track an eagle named “Arnold” in an attempt to keep him safe on his its migration route to South Africa.

So far, four million views have been recorded tracking Arnold’s path south into Africa. National television broadcasts weekly updates headlined “Follow the Slovak Eagle.” Earlier this month, the bird vanished near the Kundelungu National Park in Congo. Arnold’s followers became increasingly worried that something bad had happened to him. But after 14 days of silence, Arnold’s transmitter signal reappeared this week from Zambia.

In less than a decade, the preservation project has managed to save 15 Lesser Spotted Eagles and stabilize their total population in Slovakia. Baby eaglets are collected from nests, carefully picked out in advance, when they are approximately five days old, in order to prevent their murder by parents. They then temporarily placed in a Rescue Station where a foster mother takes care of them and feeds them. When the young birds can feed by themselves and regulate their body temperature, they are released into the wild.

Now, thanks to the Internet, they can continue to be followed and protected. The Tatra National Park plans to reach out to other national park administrations in the European Union to speak about their lessons learned and promote the use of the internet in forestry

Posted by Ondrej Socuvka, Policy Manager Google Slovakia
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Following the lead of nature’s engineers

Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog

It’s no surprise that Google appreciates engineers. And this Earth Day, we’re looking at some of our favorite engineers from nature to see how they can teach us to treat the environment better. We’ve created a website where we can see the beauty and ingenuity of the natural world through photos from National Geographic. We also want to provide easy ways to be greener in our own lives, so this site shows us how we can all be like those organisms by taking simple actions to care for the environment.

For instance, until recently I’d never heard of a remora. Turns out that these fish latch on to other ocean creatures such as whales and turtles to catch rides. In a way, these fish are using their own form of mass transit. To be like the remora and travel with a lighter footprint, we can plan trips using rapid transit. Or we can be inspired by bears—the true experts on “sleep mode”—to save energy in our own lives by adjusting our home thermostat and using energy efficient appliances.

Our doodle today also acknowledges the interconnections of the natural world. You can interact with elements of the environment to affect the seasons, weather and wildlife.

As another way to move from awareness to action, we’re hosting a Google+ Hangout On Air series focused on pressing environmental issues. We’ll kick it off today at 12pm ET with a Hangout on Air connecting NASA (live from Greenland), National Geographic explorers from around the world, and Underwater Earth (live from the Great Barrier reef). Throughout the week, we’ll hold daily Hangouts on Air covering topics such as clean water and animal conservation.

This Earth Day and every day, let’s take a moment to marvel at the wonder of nature and do our part to protect the natural ecosystem we all depend on. A salute to nature’s engineers!

Posted by Erin Reilly, Google Green team
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