Search giant Google is one of the largest companies on the planet and is so synonymous with search that people, when looking for something on the web, use “Google” as a word for looking for something. And as it is one of the largest companies on this fair planet of ours they use masses of energy to run their multi-billion dollar company.
Google have begun to address the impact their company has on the environment and have now invested almost $1 billion in renewable energy sources across the globe; the latest being an equity stake in Iowan wind farm worth $75 million.
It s thought that the technology juggernauts data centres alone consume as much energy as a quarter of a million homes so to say their investment in renewable energy isn’t just clever – it’s absolutely essential.
To date, as previously mentioned, Google has spent almost $1 billion, so where has that money gone? Let’s take a look at some of the projects:
» $178 million in a Bright Source solar project which is based in the Mojave Desert and is focussed on creating a 370 (approx) megawatt generation facility which relies solely on solar power
» $280 million to Solar City which focuses on providing residential properties and runs many projects in conjunction with this. This is Google’s largest investment partner in this field
» $100 million to a project located in Arlington, Oregon’s Shepherd’s Flat which is projected to be the world’s largest wind farm, producing more than 845 megawatts of energy and is due to be completed in 2012.
As well as making large investments across a number of projects they are also testing a new biofuels method. In conjunction with Cool Planet Energy Systems they are attempting to produce gasoline which is high octane through a thermal process which uses non-food biomass such as energy crops and agricultural waste. This is converted to hydrocarbons and is subjected to a catalytic conversion process.
Using as much as energy as Google does it not only looks at safeguarding its own energy future but is also very keen to be seen as forward thinking, environmentally and socially responsible company. And is it working? Well according to Google they have been a “carbon neutral” company since 2007 but in terms of image the jury still seems to be out.
According to a report by EIRIS, a global responsible investment firm, Google still has a weak rating (alongside Apple) in terms of sustainability, lagging behind other tech companies.
Michael Smith is passionate about the enviroment and especially technoolgies which help in shaping a renewable future. Michael’s work can be seen on the Green Forums blog as well as many others.