Green IT: Google Spends $800M on Clean Wind, Solar Power Investments
Through Google Ventures (and Google.org), Google has invested in several green technology startups, including Aptera, which produces three-wheeled electric cars, efficient battery maker ActaCell, geothermal company Alta Rock and smart grid provider Silver Spring Networks, among others. Exact investment figures are not available. Google also invested $5 million in a solar photovoltaic farm in Germany. These investments, however valuable to the startups, are small fry in the grand scheme of Google's spending, as you'll soon see.
Google, the world's leading proponent, provider and consumer of cloud computing, has more than 1 billion search users. The company also supports roughly 200 million Gmail users and tens of millions of users (many of them the same) via Google Apps, where software and services are hosted on powerful computers. Google also run applications on users' smartphones through its Google Android operating system along with Web apps on the Google Chrome Operating System notebook computers. To make this possible, Google uses dozens of data centers all over the world to support search and other apps and Web services. That means Google is a major consumer of energy. To help curb some of costs associated with traditional energy consumption, Google has launched serious green initiatives, investing in wind and solar clean power and even securing the ability to buy and sell power as a wholesaler. The company recently assessed the long-term economic impacts for the U.S., assuming breakthroughs were made in several different clean energy technologies, like wind, geothermal and electric vehicles. This includes paring household energy costs by over $942 a year. Google entered 2011 having spent less than $100 million on clean energy. That changed beginning in April with a solid (but modest for its size relative to it $36 billion in cash reserves) investment in BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. eWEEK walks through Google's clean power initiatives and investments in this slide show.