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Google Can Now Buy and Sell Energy

Google Energy, which is owned by the search engine company Google, got approval Thursday to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market. The company was created and applied for market based rate-authorization in December, and it will be able to start trading energy on February 23.

According to reporting by PC World, Google’s move into the energy market is a strategy to help provide power to the electricity-hungry buildings that house its search engine, advertising network, email software, and all the other things Google does that require large groups of computers.

Google has also made a pledge to be carbon neutral, so being able to buy and sell energy will help it incorporate greener energy into its operations, the article said.

Google, and computing in general, has come under fire recently for not being very green in an article by the UK paper The Times. A Harvard physicist is working on research into the environmental impact of computing, and estimates that an average Google search generates 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of carbon. They arrive at this number by counting from the time a user begins searching until they find what they are looking for, and estimate that carbon generation could range from 1-10 grams (0.04-0.35 ounces), depending on equipment. In everyday terms, they say a search is equivalent to half the energy required to boil a kettle.

Google claims an individual search needs 1 kilojoule (0.0003 kilowatt hours) of energy, which is equivalent to about 0.2 grams (0.007 ounces) of carbon. Google says in a blog post that that amount of energy is consumed by the human body in 10 seconds, and the carbon emissions of a newspaper equal about 850 Google searches. In addition to increasing its efficiency, Google says its recycling practices, investment in renewable energy, and efforts to increase the efficiency of the entire IT industry help offset any criticism.

Google also has software for monitoring energy usage called Google PowerMeter, which requires a special power meter to be installed on the user’s home. Users can log in to the software to see how much energy they are using from hour to hour. It’s a small pilot project of their philanthropy arm, Google.org, and is partnered with 10 utility companies in North America and Europe, and two companies to make the special power meters.

Although Google doesn’t have plans to become a power company, according to the PC World article, it is interesting that they have a pilot project involving power meters and monitoring software.

–James Robertson

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    Google can now buy and sell bulk energy Google has been sanctioned by the U.S. government to buy and sell power, though it is unlikely that.
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    July 19, 2010, 3:18 pm

    One can only be astound by how fast Google is re0inventing itself. From the early beginnings to the multi conglomerate in not only a decade. Amazing. Buy energy, really?
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    Energy interesting subject this is the outer way Google make more money! Green energe not working if you falow the EU union cancel invest more money to wind an solar energy, the big problem 1911 stag grips take 30-40 years to recover the money you need to invest in it! What is the real solution? No one know.

  17. MikeT81
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    This makes sense. Vertical integration is really the only option for google. It was just a matter of time before they provided their own energy. What an electric bill that must be.
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    Well Google has billions of dollars and they can do whatever they want with this money. But their intentions are great because they are planning to buy renewable energy and at the same time sell them. Renewable energy is what our world needs to minimize global warming.
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    I have come across this.. Google says in a blog post that that amount of energy is consumed by the human body in 10 seconds, and the carbon emissions of a newspaper equal about 850 Google searches. Great isn’t it??
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    Honestly, with all the power Google has to use for its data centers it just makes sense that they get into the power industry. Good for them.
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  50. bartodeo
    June 16, 2010, 10:24 am

    There is not a lot of emphasis on Google’s ‘recycling practices, investment in renewable energy, and efforts to increase the efficiency of the entire IT industry’ pales here as after I finished reading I hear only the emptiness of what sounds like this is only going to benefit Google itself.
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  58. The Window Man
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    It is amazing to put this into prospective. I am glad Google is taking more steps to become green, however, this is one more channel in our economy that Google has a hand in. Scary in this fashion, But if I was Google I would do the same. Very smart.

  59. Ice1
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    You’ve got to be out of your mind if you think the unemployed that are freezing to death at night could care less about what google does with .007 grams of carbon credits. We are destroying three generations of our future in a mindless game to save a planet that can take better care of life then google can of human rights in China.