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Google makes energy!

March 5, 2010

So many of us use Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Talk, and soon we could be using Google Energy.  After receiving federal approval to buy and sell energy on the open market just like a utility does, on February 23rd Google started trading energy!  Google consumes a lot of power for an undisclosed number of data centers that house the giant search engine and its other services.  Google’s strategy is to make its own electricity so it can sell some back to the grid.  Google also has made a pledge to be carbon neutral by using as much renewable energy as possible and this fits well in its plan.  So for example Google could add photovoltaics to its Mountain View headquarters and sell off the excess energy.  PC World reported that Google has not disclosed any plans to become an energy trader and is not yet sure how it plans to proceed with it.

Google’s Carbon Footprint

National Geographic’s Green Guide stated that a Harvard physicist, Alex Wissher-Gross estimates that the average environmental impact of a Google search generates 7 grams of carbon.  This amounts to half the energy required to boil a kettle.  Google disagrees with this assumption. “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 the 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.  The Sunday Times of UK agreed with Google’s calculation summarizing that a typical Google use for the year would produce the same amount of CO2 as a single load of washing.

Other similar large power users like Safeway, Walmart, Kimberly Clark have been given the same authority by the Federal Trade Commission.

-by Noerah

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 8:13 pm

    Fascinating.
    You know, I often think about the energy consumed through computer use… but never specifically the units consumed through Google searching. I’m a virtual search-engine-energy whore!!

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