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Google Power Technology

Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer 160

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-aren't-they-doing-now dept.
necro81 writes "Google consumes massive amounts of electrical energy to power its data centers across the country and world. Now it has created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, and applied (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility-scale energy trader. Google's stated aim is to be able to purchase renewable energy directly from producers at bulk rates, pursuing its goal of becoming carbon neutral. It is likely that Google Energy would also permit Google's own renewable energy projects to sell their energy at more favorable rates. Google reportedly does not have plans to actively become an energy broker, a la Enron."
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Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer

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  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:49PM (#30696262)

    Put two and two together and I think it's obvious that wind power companies were looking to work with Google and were maybe even encouraged by Google.

    The Power company in Green Bay, WI spent a few hundred million building a wind farm in Iowa (a few hundred miles away). There is a new law here that power companies have to have a certain percentage of their power renewable. Since the wind doesn't blow as much in Green Bay (if only they could get power from the cold, or the hatred of Brett Farve and the Vikings), it is cheaper and easier for them to build it in Iowa, then sell it, over the transmission networks, to themselves.

  • by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher&gmail,com> on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:52PM (#30696306) Homepage Journal

    Never forget Google's main money maker is not search, it is not ads and it is not applications. It is data and the statistics that are derived from that data.

    Citation, please? Their shareholder prospectus says 97% of their revenue is from AdWords.

    Why do you believe otherwise?

  • by Laxator2 (973549) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:55PM (#30696346)
    I worked in the energy market, specifically in electricity (not as a trader). First, Enron pretty much invented the market for electricity ("power trading"), it was the (mis)management that sunk the company. The problem with renewables, and wind in particular, is the unpredictability. You can end up with a lot of power delivered to you and you may end up paying somebody to get rid of it, as you cannot consume it all. So if Google wants to buy wind power for its own consumption, it makes all the sense in the world to enter the market and trade as well.
  • by D Ninja (825055) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:03PM (#30696456)

    It seems like Google wants to know everything about everybody

    Of course. That's never been a secret. Right from Google's Corporate Mission [google.com] page it says:

    The name [Google] reflects the immense volume of information that exists, and the scope of Google's mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

    It only stands to reason that in order to organize the world's information, you have to know the information in the first place. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide.

  • Again, I'm neither an economist or businessman.

    i"this vertical integration strategy is awesome for the company but I don't like it for two reasons"

    You mean like how a corporation such as General Electric is into

    finance aviation healthcare electric power plants oil media consumer appliances military

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_by_General_Electric [wikipedia.org]

    No. When I say 'vertical integration' I am referring to something more along the lines of Google depending on networks and energy for its main business. So what does it do? It starts making its own network solutions and slowly entering energy. That's vertical because they start to invest in become more of their stack. After all, when you're that big, why pay a premium so that another company can turn a profit? Just enter that market and become your own provider! It's a great idea in businesses.

    To a lesser extent, I hate what you mentioned. That is horizontal integration. Where they use their money (and maybe expertise) to enter another market separate from their own (often unrelated). GE got into health care just because analysts identified it as a cash cow recently. A cash cow with no one taking advantage of it. So GE entered that market. They had lots of electronics and other applications, but nothing really in health care.

    While everyone is worried about what google might do in the future, other corporations that are bigger than google are already doing worrisome things.

    Companies have the right to expand. We deal with it by putting a few simple laws out there that protect a free market (please, please don't lay into me about how it's not a truly free market and I'm an idiot, I tire of that conversation) and to allow entrance by small competitors. Because these things benefit the consumer and that's what matters in the end.

    It's only worrisome when it negatively affects the consumer. If GE used its weight to force their health care down our throats even though it sucked, I'd be upset. Let's wait and see, maybe they'll offer better products at lower prices? Or perhaps it will prove to be an economic folly for them -- which everyone should be entitled to make and risk.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:26PM (#30696820) Homepage

    Because Google is gonna leverage their "monopoly" in search to... uh... what, exactly? Buy energy?

    By that same token, one would expect these governments to go after Walmart for forcing down prices on the supply-side of the chain. And yet they don't. Why? Because using your power to gain better business deals is perfectly legal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:29PM (#30696868)

    ...if only they could get power from the cold,

    Well, you can actually get power by using the cold and the warmer underground temperature to power a heat differential engine. A lot of industrial operations in Canada have located themselves near flooded mines to take advantage of the stored underground heat for cheap, clean power; although the oil companies have been doing their best to buy up and shut down every company that specializes in creating such systems as I understand.

  • Re:I rather doubt (Score:3, Informative)

    by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecowNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:09PM (#30697442) Homepage
    Yes, but enron traders actually had the ability to phone up the operators at power plants and get them to shut down at the proper times to drive up the price of electricity on contracts the traders were controlling (illegal). This was possible because before they became a huge energy trading company when the markets were opened, they were an infrastructure level energy company...google does not have natural gas pipelines anywhere.

    Also, while Enron's energy traders were total douches and did some pretty unethical stuff, Enron's big issue was the accounting fraud. They got into deep trouble with the basically imaginary income they were booking on other projects--the trading segment was doing fine until skilling forced his accounting through and started abusing mark to market practices.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:29PM (#30697758) Homepage
    Apparently you don't understand how Google's advertisement system works. The advertiser only pays *when* an ad is clicked.
  • by cheesybagel (670288) on Friday January 08, 2010 @03:12PM (#30698372)

    Shows how much you (or your economist friend) know about the energy market. Utilities do not burn [doe.gov] petroleum (oil) in any significant fashion to generate electricity. There was this little thing called the 1973 oil [wikipedia.org] crisis which made it too expensive to use for utility level electricity generation.

    When people talk about "gas" power generation they are talking about natural gas. You know, methane. CH4. Not oil.

  • by SydShamino (547793) on Friday January 08, 2010 @03:20PM (#30698470)

    T. Boone Pickens demonstrated someone getting in too far over their head too fast in this market [slashdot.org]. I really wish he would explain to everyone what went wrong with his plans. Who knows? The cement for the bases could get too expensive?

    He tried to change Texas law so that the water supply corporation he owned in the Texas panhandle would be able to use eminent domain to take land on a corridor to Dallas/Fort Worth, so as to convey the wind power. Oh, and he could use the same corridor to convey water from the panhandle to DFW as well.

    In all those wind power ads and interviews you saw, he never did mention the fact that he owned significant water rights in the Texas panhandle, and just needed a route to pipe that water to major cities to sell it. Do you recall that part?

    When Texas balked about letting him pump the panhandle dry and flood (literally) the DFW market with his water, he stopped his ruse of caring about the environment.

    http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/071008/loc_302185743.shtml [lubbockonline.com]

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4275059.html [popularmechanics.com]

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/TimothyCarney/T_Boone_Pickens_wants_your_water.html [washingtonexaminer.com]

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_25/b4089040017753.htm [businessweek.com]

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday January 08, 2010 @04:20PM (#30699324) Homepage Journal

    Where does natural gas come from?

    Oil wells and coal. Infinitesmal amounts of biogas.

    I rest my case. Your turn.

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