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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Google released a report yesterday describing an interesting challenge: It aims to eventually use carbon-free electricity to power its energy-thirsty data centers around the clock and around the world.

Why it matters: The tech giant announced months ago that it already purchases enough renewable energy in the aggregate to match their annual power consumption. But that's not the same thing as never using carbon-emitting power.

  • Their data centers across the world are still pulling from grid mixes that contain varying amounts of fossil fuels.
  • "On a global and annual basis, our purchases of solar and wind energy zero out the entire carbon footprint of our electricity use," they note.
  • "Yet this is an imperfect solution. We want to build a future where each Google facility is always matched — around the clock — with carbon-free power," the study states.

Where it stands: Google notes they source CO2-free power in two broad ways — their long-term power purchase deals from regional renewables projects and the power coming from a broader regional grid.

  • They're now measuring how the hourly power use for each data center lines up with the hourly carbon-free supply in a given region (which bounces around due to the variability of renewables).
  • The results vary.

Details, per Google:

  • One example is a data center in Hamina, Finland, where 97% of the power use is matched on an hourly basis with CO2-free resources, thanks to their wind purchase deals in the region and a Finnish grid with lots of nuclear, hydro and biomass.
  • Yet at a center in Lenoir, N.C., the total is 67%, due to drawing on a night-time power mix in which energy from their local solar purchase deal has, of course, waned.
  • And, at a Taiwanese center in a coal- and gas-dominated area, the hourly match is less than 20%, though they're hoping to begin directly sourcing CO2-free power thanks to recent changes in power market policies.

What's next: The report lays out 3 broad ways to boost the hourly match worldwide...

  • "Policy and market reforms" can be enacted that lower procurement barriers, as well as carbon pricing.
  • Develop and deploy technologies like advanced nuclear, storage and carbon capture.
  • "[N]ew energy contracting approaches that focus on providing firm low-carbon electricity 24x7."

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.