Google’s Dutch Windmills


Fierce negotiations have been going on since March 15th  2017, the day of the Dutch elections, in The Hague, political hub of the Netherlands. In the coming days will be clear which parties will form together the new Dutch government. One of the prominent parties around the negotiating table is ‘Groen Links’, translated ‘Green Left’, the environmentalist party. Climate policy has been an important topic of debate. The green party has received significant support from a perhaps unexpected angle, namely from large businesses. Many of these want to become ‘greener’. In the past years, much has been discussed in politics in terms of sustainability targets for large businesses. However, nothing concrete has been outlined so far. Large companies have been waiting for concrete and clear conditions to be set out. They are looking at the new government and hope it will provide them with more clarity. The eyes are set on the green party particularly.

In any event, Google has already announced that by the end of 2017, it wants to run its data hotels entirely on green Dutch energy, thus green orange energy, in the North of Holland, the Groningen harbor area.

Two large windmill parks there were recently purchased by Google from ENECO and will be in Google’s ownership for the next 10 years. The port’s director claims that the investment in sustainability has so far triggered ever more multinationals to establish in the North of Holland.

The Groningen seaport is very advanced in terms of sustainability. The harbor’s director explains that the only way to survive is with sustainable energy, that is generated not abroad but domestically. The harbor invests in wind- and solar energy. Foreign investors, like Google, demand access to domestically generated, green energy.

The Netherlands has long been noted for its exploitation of wind power. Its geography lends itself to that: a low land, with no hills nor mountains and a long coast line. At least 200 days a year there is a strong enough wind to power windmills. Back in the 17th century Dutch Golden Age, Holland had around 10.000 windmills. Some of these were used to pump redundant waters out of low areas. Others leveraged the wind power to process cacao, grains, spices, tobacco, coffee, tea and other commodities. Over 1000 of these picturesque authentic windmills still decorate our landscape today. These have been operated by the Dutch Windmills Foundation since the 1960s. The Zaanse Schans windmills, in Amserdam’s close proximity, are visited by millions of tourists each year.

They are emblematic of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that has prevailed in the Netherlands since the 17th century to this very day.  A spirit that has incited Google to invest here. Hopefully many more concerns will ensue.


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