Most individuals know of Google as one of the top global internet search engines. But what many are not aware of is the keen interest Google has taken into renewable energy and creating a sustainable environment for the future. They have been involved in a number of projects and initiatives to assist in creating a cleaner, greener world. Here is just a sampling of what they have offered the global community by ways of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and overall sustainability.
1) Google Looking into Charging Your Cars. In 2010, Google received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become an electric utility. Google currently offers a smart meter application enabling smart grid customers to manage utilization of electricity at home, but with this approval, Google could become a smart charge or smart grid service provider. This could be a great opportunity for Google as they have the ability to look at car preferences, take, action and provide information, for example, Google Maps will show individuals where the closest charging state is.
2) Google Makes First Investment into Biofuels. Google Ventures, in 2011, invested in CoolPlanetBioFuels, which makes “negative carbon fuels.” Though many are wondering why they made this investment Google claims they are looking into new ventures to get involved in. The technology of CoolPlanetBioFuels was developed to take non-food biomass, such as energy crops and plant waste, and turn it into a gas and diesel drop-in replacement. Google Ventures partner, Bill Maris said, “As a company, Google Inc. is interested in reducing all aspects of its environmental footprint. As a firm, Google Ventures is interested in contributing to this effort both on Google’s behalf and for the benefit of positive global impact. While petroleum does not constitute a large percentage of Google’s emission profile, we are enthusiastic about supporting technologies that can help us economically reduce our carbon footprint while simultaneously contributing to our domestic energy sector.”
3) Google Ventures. The venture capital arm of Google Inc. is represented via Google Ventures. Google Ventures invests in a number of companies in various sectors and stages, and although a lot of investments are in internet and software, they are making the move to investing in renewable energy and sustainable companies as well. For example, Google Ventures has invested in Silver Spring Network, a smart grid technology company, and V-Vehicle Company, an energy efficient vehicle company.
4) Google Introduces a New Renewable Energy Research and Development Group. In 2007, Google made plans to invest millions of dollars into renewable energy, as well as setting up a research and development renewable energy initiative called Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, or RE< C. The research and development initiative will run along with Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google. The target of the initiative is to create a gigawatt of renewable energy that is less expensive than coal within just a few short years.
5) Google.Org. As the website states at the top, “Google.org uses Google’s strengths in information and technology to build products and advocate for policies that address global challenges.” Google.org has provided more than $100 million in grants to a number of non-profits and companies that display the capabilities to create breakthrough technologies that will assist the world as a hold. A number of projects include Google Crisis Response and Google Earth Engine. Google.org also has Google Powermeter – a free tool for energy monitoring that assists individuals in saving money and energy. Through the use of energy information given by energy monitoring devices and utility smart meters, Google Powermeter allows individuals to see their total energy consumption in their home from the internet. Then, individuals can make the smart decision on ways to reduce energy consumption further.
6) Google Green. Google believes that sustainability is an essential value and because in being green. Google Green aids in location new solutions to create a clean energy future for the entire world. For example, since 2007, Google has been carbon neutral in an effort to reduce their carbon emissions. Google also has green date centers, green workplaces that are currently perusing LEED certification, and using onsite renewable energy, including the largest corporate solar installation in the United States. Google Green also provides support for non-profit organizations devoted to environmental preservation by offering free tools to increase awareness, engage supporters, and improve overall operations.
7) Numerous Google Investments into Cleantech. Google has invested in a large number of green projects. This includes Aptera Motors, an electric vehicle startup, ActaCell, a lithium battery startup, Makani Power, a company involved in the development of airborne wind turbines.
8 ) Google Large Solar Complex. While the importance Google places on other companies to become more energy conscious is essential, Google must back that up at home as well…and Google has. Google has built the largest corporate solar panel installation in the United States for its Googleplex headquarters located in Mountainview, California. Over 9000 panels have been installed on the top of the roof with even more above the newly constructed garages, which, as well, offer cords for those driving electric vehicles to work. The total installed capacity reaches 1.6MW – enough energy to power over 80,000 hours of flat screen television viewing per day. It will save Google Over $390,000 per year in energy costs, and should pay for itself in up to eight years.
9) Increase in Investments into Geothermal Systems. In 2008, Google made the announcement that they were to invest over $10 million into enhanced geothermal systems as well as make a public call to the United States to increase federal funding for geothermal projects. This investment is part of Google.org’s RE< C initiative. The investment is going to a number of companies in California and Texas. Google has also been very instrumental in lobbying for increased federal funding because it can be an accessible and easy way to get clean energy.
10) 2008 Cleantech Corporation of the Year Award to Google. Though not an initiative, it needs to be noted that through Google’s many cleantech initiatives, it was able to receive the San Francisco Cleantech’s Cleantech Corporation of the Year Award in 2008. Google was noted for its RE< C initiative, its ability to make its own data centers more energy efficient, and its multi-million dollar project to assist in the acceleration in plug-in hybrid vehicle technology.
Article by Shawn Lesser & Ben Taube.
Shawn Lesser is Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at email@example.com
Ben Taube currently serves as the Executive Director of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) which is a nonprofit headquartered in Atlanta, GA with a mission to deploy energy efficiency across 11 southeast States. The organization is comprised of public and private interests. Ben also serves as the Chair of the Global Cleantech Cluster Association. Mr. Taube has a Bachelors Degree from the University of Memphis and a Masters in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver.