Google has a 2030 goal to use carbon-free electricity around the clock, and it’s now working to achieve that by switching its Belgium data center away from backup diesel generators to batteries. 

Backup systems come into play during power outages, but those for data centers have to “ramp up millions of watts of backup electricity in seconds.” Google wants to leverage a more green alternative, and will soon install a battery-based system in its Belgium facility.

In the event of a power disruption, the system will help keep our users’ searches, e-mails, and videos on the move — without the pollution associated with burning diesel. 

The company says this “cleaner solution has advanced far enough to keep the internet up and running.” Batteries also have the advantage of being used to strengthen the broader electric grid instead of sitting “idle most of the year.” It’s partnering with the local transmission system operator in Belgium:

Wind and solar power are currently booming around the world, but sunny days and breezy hours don’t always align with a community’s energy demand. Large-scale batteries at data centers can address this problem by banking renewable power when it’s abundant, and discharging it when it’s needed. Batteries can also help balance other kinds of variability on power grids, allowing for more cost-effective and efficient operations. 

For Google, this battery deployment at its Belgium data center is a “first step.” It estimates that there are over 20 gigawatts of backup diesel generators in use by the industry worldwide, with transitions serving as a “massive opportunity to deploy cleaner solutions.”

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: