Google donates $2.65M grant to the Energy Foundation

Google has put money into 11 different green energy projects since 2010

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
January 15, 2013
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Google has really committed itself to the green energy movement.

Only a few days after putting $200 million into a windfarm in Texas, Google has donated $2.65 million to the Energy Foundation, a lobbying group that puts its focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy in the United States and China, it was announced Tuesday.

"One of the best parts about working at Google is the chance to use the Internet and digital technology to help us all manage energy better. We’ve seen big changes in recent years to the way we watch TV, use phones, read and listen to music, yet how we use electricity hasn’t changed much in decades," Michael Terrell, Senior Policy Counsel, Energy & Sustainability, at Google, wrote.

"What if instead of a monthly bill we had access to more real-time and actionable information about our electricity consumption? What if our appliances, air conditioners, and lights adjusted automatically to use energy more efficiently and save money? If we did this in every home it would help improve the reliability of the grid and save billions of dollars."

The grant is meant toto support policy reforms that will lead to more intelligent energy use, and will focus on three key areas:

  • Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient, shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper and produce their own on-site energy;
  • Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times; and
  • Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.

"These policy reforms, coupled with the new technologies now being deployed on a large scale, can empower consumers to make smarter energy choices, improve real-time management of the electricity grid, and help facilitate more renewable energy all while lowering overall costs," Terrel wrote.

Google's other green energy investments

Google has poured a lot of money into green energy, most recently a $200 million equity investment in Spinning Spur Wind Project, a 161 megawatt facility, located in west Texas, that was built by renewable energy developer EDF Renewable Energy.

Spinning Spur has 70 Siemens turbines, each with 2.3 megawatts, enough to power more than 60,000 average U.S. homes. The turbines began spinning full time just before the end of the year, and the energy they create has been contracted to SPS, a utility that primarily serves Texas and New Mexico.

Google has invested in green energy projects 10 other times, including solar power company Brightsource, in which Google initially originally invested $10 million in 2008 and then another $168 million; Rippey Wind Farm, which Google invested $75 million; and Clean Power Finance, in which Google also poured in $75 million.

Four of Google's investments has significant milestones in the past year. The Atlantic Wind Connection received permission to begin permitting, an important step in advancing the construction of the United States’ first offshore backbone electric transmission system. Shepherds Flat, one of the world’s largest wind farms with a capacity of 845 megawatts, became fully operational in October. The Ivanpah project, which is more than 75% complete and employs over 2,000 people, recently installed its 100,000th heliostat, while the fourth and final phase of Recurrent Energy's 88MW solar installation in Sacramento County, California recently reached commercial operation.

According to an infographic, the projects that Google has invested can generate up to 2 gigawatts of power. That can power 500,000 homes, 70 million television shows, 190,000 car trips around the world, the Sydney Opera House for 312 years, and all of the public elementary schools in New York, Oregon and Wyoming combined for a full year.

The Energy Fund could not be reached for comment.

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