November 27, 2007 1:00 PM PST
Google to enter clean-energy business
- Related Stories
Solar thermal plants go back to the futureSeptember 9, 2007
Shrinking the cost for solar powerMay 11, 2007
Wal-Mart launches solar-power programMay 7, 2007
Saving wind power for laterMarch 27, 2007
MIT-led study finds geothermal energy potential untappedJanuary 22, 2007
- Related Blogs
Google's love for solar may extend to other renewables
October 30, 2007
Google offers $10 million to 'sustainable transportation' firms
September 12, 2007
(continued from previous page)
Right now, the most widely used form of renewable energy in the United States is from hydropower, which makes up about 7 percent of power generation. Other renewables make up 2.4 percent, while coal-fired power plants generate nearly half of the power in the United States, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Google estimates that about 40 percent of power worldwide comes from burning coal, one of the most polluting fossil fuels.
In an FAQ document, Google said it will pursue "enhanced geothermal technology that taps into heat underground to generate usable energy. It said this approach differs from traditional geothermal technology because it can be used nearly anywhere, rather than only in locations with specific geological features.
Google's intention to invest directly in power generation technologies is unusual for a business outside the energy sector.
Companies with environmental stewardship programs or commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions typically invest in on-site renewable energy or purchase carbon offsets that represent investments in clean-energy projects.
Wal-Mart, for example, has a high-profile program to make its stores more energy efficient by using the latest technologies, including solar photovoltaics. It has also done reviews with suppliers to reduce waste and packaging in its supply chain and stores.
Google's initiative came about as many of Google's different operations reached a similar conclusion on the need for clean energy, Page said.
The company has hundreds of people dedicated to making its computing infrastructure more energy efficient, and it founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative to make computer components more energy efficient.
As a corporation, it has undertaken programs to lower greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, including a 1.6-megawatt solar array and a facility to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles. It expects to meet its goal of being carbon neutral this year, executives said.
In September, it set up a $10 million program to invest in companies developing clean transportation technologies.
Despite these efforts, the company's buildings and data centers continue to consume electricity from coal-fired power plants.
"We feel hypocritical as a company so we want to make the investments so that alternatives are available down the road," Page said.
4 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment