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Google partners with Nevada utility for geothermal to power data centers

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Google logo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google has entered into an agreement with Berkshire Hathaway electric utility NV Energy to power its Nevada data centers with advanced geothermal electricity, the U.S. technology company said on Wednesday.

The deal, which has been sent to state utility regulators for approval, would increase the amount of carbon-free geothermal electricity injected into the local power grid for Google's operations to 115 megawatts from 3.5 megawatts in about six years, Google said in a statement.

The agreement comes as the world's biggest technology companies hunt for massive amounts of electricity to power their rapidly-expanding data centers, or giant computer warehouses, needed to support technologies like generative artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

The partnership advances Google towards its goal of running on entirely clean energy by 2030.

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So far this year, Google has announced plans to spend at least $4 billion to build or expand data centers in Indiana, Missouri and Virginia.

Google's global operations were powered by 64% carbon-free energy, including wind and solar, according to the company's latest environmental report.

The partnership with NV Energy is a new way that companies with very large emerging electricity loads and climate goals may get their power in regulated power markets.

Regulated power markets require power to be purchased from the local utility, as opposed to directly from a power generator, which can make it challenging for companies seeking all-clean energy.

The agreement involved Google's direct input in NV Energy's power generation resource planning and developing a rate structure, which has been dubbed the Clean Transition Tariff, that Google wants to be replicated elsewhere in the country.

Duke Energy, which operates in regulated states, announced a similar agreement with Google, as well as Microsoft and Amazon, late last month.

To facilitate the deal, NV Energy executed a power purchase agreement with advanced geothermal developer Fervo Energy, which is currently supplying Google with 3.5 megawatts of power after entering into a pilot program with the technology company in 2021.

Power sources from solar and wind energies depend on the availability sunshine and wind, which has led to companies searching for firm clean capacity to consider existing nuclear or lesser used technologies like geothermal.

Geothermal, which uses naturally occurring underground heat to produce renewable electricity, accounts for about 10% of the total electricity generation in Nevada, or the most of any U.S. state, according to the Energy Information Administration.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing Liz Hampton and Rashmi Aich)