The “Greening” of Google

December 2, 2007

In March 2007, Google announce that they were “going greener”.  In his Ars Technica blog post, Nate Anderson wrote on March 29, 2007:

Google’s commitment to “green” means that the company sources carpet and sofas made without PVC, paints without volatile organic compounds, and cafeteria food from local growers. It’s not surprising, then, that they would roll out the largest commercial solar deployment in the US—a 1.6MW installation that covers most of the buildings at Google’s campus and extends even to shaded parking spaces. At the ETech conference in San Diego this week, Google’s Anthony Ravitz explained how Google did it, and why.

The move to solar made sense for Google, and not just “hippie Gaia-loving” sense. Ravitz said that Google will earn its investment back in 7.5 years, after which it will continue to enjoy inexpensive power for decades. With the company sprawled across a large campus of many low buildings, roof space was easily available. Solar also has the unique property of pumping out more energy when power is the most expensive—peak afternoon hours. When air conditioners across California kick into action on sunny days, Google generates the most power.

On November 28th, 2007, news comes out that Google is going into the green energy business.  Google has been pouring investment money into this sector. Besides investing in solar, wind and geothermal companies, Google will create its own research and development group “to look very aggressively at what we think are some promising technological pathways,” said Bill Weihl, Google’s green energy czar.

Google said that it’ll spend “tens of millions” to research clean-energy alternatives to coal-fired power plants and “hundreds of millions” to cut the costs of this power.

The goal is to produce 1 gigawatt of power from clean power sources – enough to light up a city the size of San Francisco – at a cost that’s the same as if the energy came from low-cost, high-polluting coal.

How soon? “Within years, not decades,” Google co-founder Larry Page wrote in a Web post.

Not much to do with marketing on the web, but good for the earth, don’t you think?

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