Published on: January 22, 2013
The U.S. has already seen a massive drive toward energy efficiency and improved energy infrastructure, but plenty of people don’t think that the country has gone far enough. A few of those people happen to own a rather well-known company called Google.
The internet search (and email and smartphone and driverless car, etc.) giant has decided that the the structure of the country’s energy industry still isn’t well-suited to pushing some of the innovative new sustainable energy solutions being put out on the market.
Devices like smart meters and programmable thermostats are growing more common, but there’s still precious little interaction between smart meters or computers and appliances, or even access to information on energy usage.
To promote these new approaches to commercial and residential energy efficiency, Google has decided to donate $2.65 million dollars to a group called the Energy Foundation, a non-profit working to encourage the large-scale adoption of renewable energy as well as breaking down “market and regulatory barriers to renewables, efficiency, and clean distributed generation.”
Google’s hope with the grant is that these new technologies will be able to encourage more responsive, and more responsible, use of energy from consumers across the board, from the biggest factories to small businesses to the average homeowner.
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,” wrote Michael Terrell, the company’s senior policy counsel on energy and sustainability. “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?”
The big goal is to start opening up the market to be more responsive to the pressures of supply and demand throughout the course of the day – allowing for shifting electricity rates that smart appliances can use to save money, demand response programs that reward consumers for cutting usage when demand is high and policies that give customers access to their own data.
This is hardly Google’s first foray into energy, as the company has already made major investments in several of the largest renewable energy projects, including a recent investment worth $200 million in a wind farm near Amarillo, Texas.