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Photo: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Google is deploying a new tool in its ongoing quest to eventually run its energy-thirsty data centers on carbon-free power around the clock.

The state of play: The company said in a blog post Wednesday that it's beginning to deploy a "carbon-intelligent computing platform" at its very large data centers. The goal is to align energy use to the time period when the supply is cleanest.

  • It will track at what times renewables generation is the highest for the area where the data center is located.
  • Armed with that info, they will ensure that “non-urgent” tasks — like creating new filter features on Google Photos — occur when that renewables part of the energy mix is high.

How it works: The platform compares two next-day forecasts: how the hourly carbon intensity of the grid will change during the day, and what the hourly power needs of the data center will be.

  • "[W]e use the two forecasts to optimize hour-by-hour guidelines to align compute tasks with times of low-carbon electricity supply," the company said.
  • "Results from our pilot suggest that by shifting compute jobs we can increase the amount of lower-carbon energy we consume."

Why it matters: Data centers suck a lot of power (even though they're not the carbon bomb some think).

  • Google says it already buys enough to renewable power annually to match the company's total power use.
  • But that's not the same thing as never relying on fossil generation to run data centers.
  • As we wrote about here, their data centers are still pulling from grid mixes that contain varying amounts of fossil fuels.

The intrigue: Google hopes to not only align the tasks of specific data centers with the local grid mix, but "move flexible compute tasks between different data centers, so that more work is completed when and where doing so is more environmentally friendly," the post states.

Go deeper: Google says all advertisers must prove identities moving forward

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.