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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Google and the energy company AES announced a 10-year deal to supply three Northern Virginia data centers with 90% power from zero-emissions sources on an hourly basis.

Why it matters: It's the latest move in Google's pledge to have all its operations run round-the-clock on carbon-free power by 2030.

Data centers use lots of power. Google says it already buys enough renewable power annually to match the company's power use.

  • But that's not the same thing as never relying on fossil generation, and its operations rely on grids with varying levels of coal and gas.
  • Google said last month that five data center sites — in Denmark, Finland, Iowa, Oklahoma and Oregon — are now around 90% carbon-free 24/7.

How it works: AES said it would supply Google with a 500-megawatt mix of wind, solar, hydro and battery storage it will develop or contract.

  • The portfolio will require roughly $600 million of investment and generate 1,200 permanent and temporary jobs, it said, while calling it a way to help decarbonize the region's grid more broadly.
  • "Our plan is to provide this kind of carbon-free energy product in the future to a wide range of customers in similar circumstances," AES Clean Energy President Leo Moreno tells Axios.

The big picture: Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Axios' Andrew Freedman that relying only on carbon-free power around the clock everywhere is their "moonshot goal."

  • "Moving to a world where we are able to operate by sourcing clean energy for every location and where you are, and, and doing it across your operational footprint in everything you do — I think that's profound," he said in a recent interview.

Go deeper

EIA report: Carbon emissions expected to increase in 2021

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coal consumption for electricity generation is expected to increase by 17% this year due to higher natural gas prices that are temporarily making coal more cost-competitive, according to the latest Short Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration Tuesday.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, so any uptick in its use, even temporarily, can have a significant influence on carbon emissions.

54 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.