At Google committed in building a clean energy future because we we want to be good environmental stewards, and because we think it makes business sense. We’ve had a busy year with our clean energy initiatives. Take look at our redesigned green website and this new video from the Google green team to learn more about the priorities we’re pursuing:
As we look back on 2010, we wanted to highlight what we’ve been working on this year to help build a more sustainable future—for Google, and the world.
- Greening our operations. We already have the most energy efficient data centers in the world, and use renewable energy whenever possible. This year we created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, to enable us to purchase renewable energy on the wholesale power markets and to help spur development in the sector.
- Flexibility in buying renewable energy. In February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Google Energy LLC the authority to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market, giving us the flexibility to procure renewable energy at competitive prices.
- 20-year green power purchase. Our FERC authority enabled Google Energy LLC to enter a 20-year green Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in July to buy clean energy from 114 megawatts (MW) of wind generation at NextEra’s Story County II facility in Iowa (read more about how the deal is structured). By purchasing so much energy for so long, we’re giving the developer financial certainty to build additional clean energy projects.
- Developing green products and tools. Just a few weeks ago, during the the U.N. Climate Change Conference in sunny Cancun, Mexico, we launched Google Earth Engine, a new Google Labs product. Google Earth Engine is a technology platform that makes an unprecedented catalog of imagery and data available online in one place for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. We’re particularly excited about the initial use of Google Earth Engine to support efforts to stop global deforestation. We’ve also been busy this year incorporating green features into our products—like Google Maps biking directions and adding Carbon Disclosure Project ratings into Google Finance.
- Investing in a clean energy future. To date, Google has invested over $100 million in clean energy. Google.org has already invested in several clean technology companies. We’ve also continued our internal R&D on renewable energy technologies (RE<C), substantially growing our engineering team. And this year, Google began making project investments that offer a solid financial return, and could have a transformational impact on the renewable energy sector.
- North Dakota wind farms. In May, we invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms that generate 169.5MW, enough to power 55,000 homes. It was our first project investment, and uses some of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems to provide one of the lowest-cost sources of renewable energy to the local grid.
- Offshore wind transmission. In October, we made a development stage investment in a project to build a backbone transmission line off the Mid-Atlantic coast. The project will put in place strong, secure transmission, removing a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind. When finished, the 350-mile line will connect up to 6,000MW of offshore wind energy—enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households!
It’s been a busy year at Google, and we believe the world needs better options in the future. As we head into the new year, we look forward to continuing our work to find and support innovative clean energy solutions.
Posted by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar Permalink