Google: 1.6 million solar panels will power these new data centres

The two solar farms will be able to produce around 150 megawatts each and will be the largest solar farms ever to be built for Google.

Solar panels on buildings reflect the city.

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Google is buying the output of 1.6 million solar panels to power two new data center campuses in the Southeastern US -- one in Tennessee and another in northern Alabama.

Google will purchase the output of several new solar farms as part of a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority for a total of  413 megawatts of power from 1.6 million solar panels --the equivalent of 65,000 home rooftop solar systems.

Located in Hollywood, Alabama and Yum Yum, Tennessee, the two biggest solar farms will be able to produce around 150 megawatts each and will be the largest solar farms ever to be built for Google. The advertising-to-cloud-computing giant said the solar power generated by these new farms will mean that the electricity consumed by the Tennessee and Alabama data centers, both announced last year and currently under construction, will be matched with renewable energy from launch.

"Approximately 72 percent of our data center electricity use in Alabama and Tennessee will be matched on an hourly basis with carbon-free sources-compared to a status-quo regional grid mix that is 48 percent carbon free," the company said.

In 2012, Google said it aimed to purchase enough renewable energy to match 100 percent of its operations, and is now the world's largest corporate buyer of renewable energy. 

Google's operations rely on vast amounts of electricity; in in 2015, it consumed 5.7 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity across all of its operations, about the same as San Francisco used in the same year. In 2017 the company purchased more than seven billion kilowatt-hours of electricity (roughly as much as is used yearly by the state of Rhode Island) from solar and wind farms that were built specifically for it.