Chile partially pulls Google data center permit, seeks tougher environmental checks

By Thomson Reuters Feb 27, 2024 | 1:58 PM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A Chilean environmental court partially reversed a permit allowing Google to build a data center in the country on Tuesday, asking the U.S. company to revise its application to take into account the effects of climate change.

Google first received initial authorization for its announced $200 million Cerrillos Data Center in Santiago in early 2020, but the project has since drawn outcry from residents and local officials over the possible impact on the capital’s parched aquifer.

Chile has been suffering from a drought for over a decade, and data servers require millions of gallons of water annually for cooling.

The court asked Google “to incorporate the consideration of climate change’s effects in the evaluation of the water component (Central Santiago Aquifer), if appropriate, taking into account a possible modification of the cooling system of the servers associated with the project,” the ruling stated.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the court decision. Its website says Google aims “to replenish 120% of the freshwater volume we consume, on average, across our offices and data centers.”

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Editing by Brendan O’Boyle and Jonathan Oatis)