Google partners with Nevada utility for geothermal to power data centers

Google announced on Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with Berkshire Hathaway electric utility NV Energy to provide advanced geothermal electricity for its Nevada data centers. The deal, currently awaiting approval from state utility regulators, will significantly increase the amount of carbon-free geothermal electricity injected into the local power grid for Google’s operations. In about six years, the company aims to boost the capacity from 3.5 megawatts to 115 megawatts. This partnership reflects the growing demand for large-scale electricity among technology giants, as they expand their data centers to support emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Moreover, this collaboration brings Google one step closer to its ambitious goal of relying entirely on clean energy by 2030.
Google has recently announced its plans to invest $4 billion in the construction and expansion of data centers in Indiana, Missouri, and Virginia this year.

According to Google’s latest environmental report, 64% of the company’s global operations are powered by carbon-free energy sources such as wind and solar.

To address the challenge of obtaining clean energy in regulated power markets, Google has entered into a partnership with NV Energy. This collaboration enables companies with high electricity demands and climate goals to obtain their power from local utilities.

In regulated power markets, companies are required to purchase electricity from the local utility rather than directly from power generators. This can make it difficult for companies seeking to use solely clean energy sources.

The agreement between Google and NV Energy includes Google’s involvement in the power generation resource planning and the development of a rate structure called the Clean Transition Tariff. Google intends for this model to be replicated in other parts of the country.
Duke Energy, a company operating in regulated states, recently announced a similar agreement with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Last month, NV Energy, in order to facilitate the deal, entered into a power purchase agreement with advanced geothermal developer Fervo Energy. As part of this agreement, Fervo Energy is currently supplying Google with 3.5 megawatts of power. This partnership between Fervo Energy and Google began in 2021 through a pilot program.

While solar and wind energies are dependent on the availability of sunlight and wind, companies are now seeking firm clean capacity options. This has led to the consideration of existing nuclear power or lesser used technologies such as geothermal. Geothermal power generation utilizes naturally occurring underground heat to produce renewable electricity. In Nevada, geothermal power accounts for approximately 10% of the state’s total electricity generation, the highest proportion among all U.S. states, according to the Energy Information Administration.