This quarter, Google was the second largest clean-tech venture investor in America. They did most of this investment through Google.org, an arm of the company that gets 1% of revenue to make the world a better place. Google.org, however, makes the world a better place with an eye toward eventual profit, so all its "donations" are actually investments.
Google.org pumped money into solar, for the most part, with a bit going into geothermal and other technologies. But the question on my mind is, why is Google focusing on energy generation clean-tech when they could be focusing on energy-management clean-tech.
Making our power system more efficient could save far more power far more quickly than greening generation with solar and geothermal. And Google has a great deal of expertise (arguably more than anyone) in managing colossal amounts of data.
Google certainly wants access to cheap, clean power for its servers, and I'm certainly glad that they're dumping money into solar. But Google's talent is arguably even more valuable than its money. And Google simply doesn't know very much about power generation. They do know about energy management.
Which is why I was excited to hear about their recent partnership with General Electric. First, they want to push the government to modernize the electric grid. But, second, they want to provide the hardware and software to help do it. Using Google's skills and workforce, I can easily see them working with GE to create a smart electricity grid that charges more for electricity based on demand and turns off your appliances when electricity is ultra-expensive at peak times.
Honestly, this is where I'm most excited about seeing Google put its resources. And while it's fantastic that they're investing so much in areas outside their expertise, I'm very glad to see them starting up some clean technology in their own realm as well.
You can learn more about GE and Google's partnership in the video above, as well as here at CNet.
written by Katie Fehrenbacher, October 09, 2008
written by David Loughry, October 10, 2008
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