In September 2020, Google announced its world-leading goal to operate on 100% carbon-free energy at all times by 2030. However, Google set this goal knowing that a 24/7 carbon-free energy solution, where demand in every hour of every day is met with carbon-free sources, didn’t yet exist. AES and Google partnered together to develop a first-of-its-kind 24/7 carbon-free energy solution, and AES committed to supply Google’s Virginia data center campus with time-matched carbon-free energy for at least 90% of all hours.
To serve Google’s Virginia data centers, AES procured more than 500-megawatts (MW) of wind, solar, hydro and energy storage projects from a combination of third-party developers and AES-owned projects. Behind the scenes, AES built a portfolio optimization tool to ensure the delivery of the optimal combination of renewable technologies to Google. They analyzed thousands of hypothetical portfolios and new renewable energy and storage projects within the same regional grid as Google’s load. This detailed analysis ensured that the portfolio minimized cost and risk while maximizing the carbon-free energy.
This structure required managing both the market operations of scheduling and dispatching load and resources as well as managing the significant market and commodity risks required to shape variable generation into a fixed price, load matched supply. AES bears the risk of under and over generation by purchasing and selling into the electricity market on an hourly basis as needed, while Google simply pays for their load at a stable $/megawatt-hour price.
To simplify Google’s energy procurement management process and reduce market risk at a competitive price, AES will perform many of Google’s market-interfacing roles for its Virginia data centers. Through the 10-year supply contract, AES will not only become the sole supplier of the Virginia data centers’ renewable energy needs on an annual basis but will also ensure that the energy powering those data centers will be 90% carbon-free when measured on an hourly basis. From Google’s perspective, their load and generation will always be in balance.
This solution is not just better for Google; it’s also better for the grid. Instead of adding an excess of solar energy to the grid during high solar-production times of the day, and pulling clean energy from the grid at night, AES has provided Google with a fixed-price, reliable solution that supports a more balanced grid by ensuring carbon-free power is delivered at the right time and at the right place.
Through this partnership, AES and Google set a new standard for corporate sustainability and created a roadmap for other organizations to accelerate the transition to a 100% 24/7 carbon-free energy future.
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