Google teams up with NV Energy to boost geothermal power for Nevada data centres

With geothermal energy accounting for about 10% of Nevada’s electricity generation, this partnership highlights a reliable alternative to weather-dependent wind and solar power.

Geothermal, plant

Google has announced a partnership with NV Energy, a Berkshire Hathaway electric utility, to significantly increase the use of geothermal energy to power its Nevada data centers. The agreement, pending approval from state utility regulators, is a major step in Google’s mission to operate entirely on clean energy by 2030. The deal will enhance Google’s use of carbon-free geothermal electricity from 3.5 megawatts to 115 megawatts within six years. NV Energy will collaborate with Fervo Energy, an advanced geothermal developer, which has been supplying Google with geothermal power since 2021. That partnership includes developing a new rate structure called the Clean Transition Tariff, designed to facilitate similar agreements in other regions.

The deal comes as tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft seek sustainable energy sources to power their growing data centers, which are essential for supporting technologies such as AI and cloud computing. Currently, 64% of Google’s global operations are powered by carbon-free energy, with a focus on wind and solar. However, geothermal energy provides a more reliable alternative, as it is not dependent on weather conditions. The partnership with NV Energy represents a new approach for companies with significant and growing electricity demands to achieve their climate goals within regulated power markets. In these markets, companies must purchase power from the local utility rather than directly from a power generator, complicating efforts to secure entirely clean energy sources. Duke Energy, which operates in regulated states, announced a similar agreement with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon recently.

Geothermal energy, which harnesses naturally occurring underground heat to produce renewable electricity, accounts for about 10% of Nevada’s total electricity generation, the highest proportion of any U.S. state, according to the Energy Information Administration. Google’s collaboration with NV Energy and Fervo Energy demonstrates a strategic move towards more sustainable and reliable energy sources, contributing to the broader effort of reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Why does it matter?

  • Environmental Impact: By significantly increasing its use of geothermal energy, Google is reducing its carbon footprint and advancing its goal of operating on entirely clean energy by 2030.
  • Energy Reliability: Geothermal energy provides a stable and continuous power source, unlike wind and solar, which are weather-dependent.
  • Industry Leadership: The partnership sets a precedent for other companies to follow, promoting innovative approaches to achieving clean energy goals in regulated power markets.
  • Economic Benefits: Developing geothermal energy projects can boost local economies, create jobs, and enhance the energy infrastructure in Nevada.