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Iron Mountain pursues 24/7 carbon-free energy goal with Google Cloud

November 7, 2023
Savannah Goodman

Data and Software Climate Solutions Lead

Charlotte Hutchinson

Sustainability Customer Engineer

In 2020, Google announced its most ambitious clean energy goal yet: to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy (CFE) globally by 2030. This means matching the electricity demand from our global operations, like our data centers and offices, with carbon-free energy supply every hour of every day, in every region where we operate.

We are excited to share that the first phase of our CFE Insights solution is now available on Google Cloud Marketplace — customers can now get access to FlexiDAO’s CFE Suite as the first step for getting started on their own 24/7 journey.

No company has achieved this goal before, and meeting it has raised a number of important questions and challenges. How do we measure our current carbon-free energy percentage, especially in regions where data isn’t readily available? How do we optimize our energy portfolio to help us achieve greater decarbonization? What kinds of clean-energy transactions must we pursue to do so, and are these kinds of transactions available in the markets where we operate?

Since we set our 24/7 carbon-free energy goal, we’ve made significant progress and learned a lot in building our roadmap to get there. But we know that decarbonizing electricity grids worldwide will require more companies than just Google operating 24/7 carbon-free. As more companies join us by setting 24/7 goals of their own, the availability of CFE Suite on Google Cloud Marketplace will help us to share our learnings with customers as they set out on their respective journeys to run 24/7 carbon-free.

Iron Mountain and the dawn of 24/7 carbon-free insights

In 2021, Iron Mountain, a global leader in innovative data storage, data center infrastructure, asset lifecycle management, and information management services, announced it would seek “to achieve 100% renewable energy use 100% of the time by 2040.” As they began pursuing this goal, however, Iron Mountain encountered many of the same questions that we had as we built out and implemented our 24/7 carbon-free energy strategy.

Iron Mountain turned to us for help. Together, we began developing a carbon-free insights solution, drawing on Google’s learnings and insights to create a streamlined end-to-end process for companies to follow as they pursue their 24/7 goals and future-proof energy operations against evolving regulations.

By offering access to both historical and real-time data with regional and hourly granularity, the solution enables customers to baseline their existing CFE score — a measure of the percentage of electricity consumption on a given regional grid that is matched with CFE on an hourly basis — and their scope 2 carbon footprint. This information helps customers forecast energy procurement costs of an optimized energy portfolio, which they can use to plan and execute carbon-free energy transactions.


How the solution works and the path forward

The solution has three phases:

  1. Baseline: We partner with FlexiDAO, a Google Cloud Ready Sustainability partner, to collect and ingest hourly production and consumption data into BigQuery and baseline customers’ current 24/7 CFE score. The analysis includes modeling and evaluating procurement scenarios against performance metrics such as RE100 and scope 2 emissions. This allows customers, like Iron Mountain, to measure and track their carbon footprint and understand where the gaps and opportunities are.
  2. Optimization model: The data is then sent to a second Google Cloud Ready Sustainability partner, LevelTen Energy, which uses its automated analytics platform, powered by Google Cloud technology and based on more than 4,500 power purchase agreement price offers, to conduct a 24/7 economic analysis and portfolio optimization model. LevelTen’s Procurement Roadmap Report outlines the optimal combination of renewable energy capacity to achieve various CFE scenarios for any target percentage up to 100% and identifies the environmental and financial impact of potential future projects.
  3. Energy Data Cloud: These results are sent back to BigQuery where customers are then able to incorporate them into a wide variety of business functions. FlexiDAO’s inventory monitoring services enable streamlined ESG reporting, clean energy procurement, and energy portfolio management.

Iron Mountain used this solution to analyze their UK data centers, where they found that they could increase their CFE score to 90% by procuring a combined ~100 MW of wind, solar, and battery storage. Iron Mountain plans to evaluate additional regions where they operate and explore future clean-energy purchasing opportunities, and continue to monitor their CFE progress over the coming years.

By expanding our carbon-free insights suite to all Cloud customers, we look forward to supporting more companies who share our ambition to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy and accelerate progress toward grid decarbonization.

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