Google’s green initiatives continue to expand

According to a New York Times article, Google continues to look to the energy sector as a potential business opportunity. However, in recent weeks, Google’s CEO, Eric E. Schmidt, has displayed increased interest in the energy business.

10/28/2008


According to a New York Times article , Google continues to look to the energy sector as a potential business opportunity. From the onset, Google invested millions of dollars into making their data centers more efficient, along with other philanthropic investments in clean energy technologies. However, in recent weeks, Google’s CEO, Eric E. Schmidt, has displayed increased interest in the energy business. Joining Jeffrey R. Immelt, General Electric’s CEO, Schmidt announced a collaborative effort focused on policies and technologies designed to improve the electricity grid.

In addition to the new technologies and policies, Google’s engineers hope to unveil tools that could help consumers make better decisions about their energy use. Google.org, the philanthropic unit of Google, which previously invested in

However, in the current economic climate, and due to the fact that Google’s stock value cut in half in the previous year, investors want the company to focus on the development of core technologies along with the completion of some of Google’s earlier initiatives, such as making their massive data centers more efficient. Although Google does not publish the complete statistics attributable to its data centers, multiple reports indicate that the company has about two dozen data centers around the world. Although the data center’s size varies, Google’s data center built in The Dalles, Ore., which is powered by hydroelectricity, operates at 50 mW, or enough to power 37,500 homes.

“The Silicon Valley guys have this idea that we are going to make solar cheaper than coal,” said John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. “To me that’s the wrong idea. I do not think it needs to be cheaper than coal to be successful. The focus needs to be on the investment and deployment of the technology.”

Last year, Google.org announced a project to develop plug-in hybrids and in order to make them widely available, the electrical grid needs an upgrade so consumers could plug in and track the electrical use of their hybrids at several locations. Google’s plug-in hybrid initiative explains the company’s current interest in developing technologies to support such upgrades to the electrical grid. Google hopes the collaboration with GE will result in the development of energy and information technology like “smart” electrical meters.

The increased interest in renewable energy sources stems from several Google initiatives from last year, including REC. The REC program involved the approximately $45 million in investments from Google focused on start-ups that included wind, solar, and geothermal programs. Now, that initiative includes a small, but expanding group of Google engineers who conduct their own research in those technologies, hoping to commercialize the results in the future.





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