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Google Power Technology

Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer 160

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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  • Energy is out there (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:03PM (#30696460)

    The more I think about it, from a physicist POV, energy is always out there. It's waiting for us to tap it.

    If Google want's to use it's resources to try and tap some of the energy that is out there, and in a way that is good for our planet/society, I say game on.

  • by maxume (22995) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:03PM (#30696464)

    With any luck, it will become economically stupid for people living in northern Minnesota to not put solar panels on their roof.

    (It is already vaguely reasonable for people in sunny areas to do so)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:05PM (#30696492)

    It's the spread between the money Google collects up front from advertisers and the money it rarely pays out - how many people actually click on ads? I don't.

    It's a great racket:

    Hey advertisers! Get word sensitive ads placed next to topics that people are actually looking at! - They collect the money from the advertisers.

    Now do the folks hosting the ads get the money? Not unless someone clicks on the ads, otherwise they get nothing from Google.

    Brilliant move on Google's part.

    It's even better than the extended warranty racket!

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:14PM (#30696642) Homepage Journal

    I lunch with an economist. You and I are not economists. But he's teaching me.

    "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."

    Sure. price has nothing to do with it. Uhuh. Color me cynical.

    "ten years from now we the consumers might be enjoying a price war between wind power fields generating electricity on equipment that has been paid for and now just needs maintenance fees."

    Same argument for nuclear power in the 60s. 'too cheap to meter'. I predict the same results for windpewer.

    "slowly amortized back up to very profitable and freaking awesome for ma and pa corn grower. The economy would go nuts if you could alleviate energy costs for everyone."

    Price has little to do with cost. It is the market. If oil- and coal-generated electicity is sold for 14/kwh, nuclear power can sell for the same, no problem. Why would windpower outfits sell for less than, say, 11/kwh? They are leaving money on the table. Not many corporations do that.

    "industries that will be negatively affected (coal, gas, etc) by these price wars will have the time to realize and change or better yet invest in their own wind farms"

    Or different petroleum supplies. Or nuclear. Or something else. Don't think they will choose for any other reason than profits.

    "tornado alley could in fifty years become the new middle east and we'll be fighting wind wars over South Dakota and Kansas."

    Um, California, Iowa, and a lot of other places have more potential. The wars in South Dakota and Kansas will be over migratory birds and turbine kills, noise (even in the middle nowhere, trust me on this), and the blight. Billboards are bad enough. Wind turbines are not pretty to everyone.

    "Overly optimistic? Of course. A little unrealistic? Well, a man can dream, can't he? A man can dream."

    Cling to your optimism. If it is all you have left, they can't take it away from you. Of course, you can give up. I just howe you don't.

  • Re:I rather doubt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:39PM (#30697002) Homepage Journal

    how about an "A la, peanut butter sandwich"?

    No, I have no idea why the sesame street memory just popped up.

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:19PM (#30697598) Homepage Journal

    Well, the argument about windpower having less impact than nuclear is interesting. Of course, hydro power in the east may have been the single most damaging presusre on Atlantic Salmon, denying access to spawning grounds just as they were being overfished. Hydro power is by no means low impact, but we tolerated it. Can I propose that hydro has caused much more environmental damange then nuclear worldwide, including Three Mile Island and Chernoby? Of course, hydro has a head start, so this may be unfair over the long haul. And Thorium reactors might make nuclear much safer and more practical.

    And you WISH windpower would compete with itself. It already does, actually, competing for a limited capital pool and limited specific demand for 'green power' sources. And other 'green power' sources. In that respect, I think it's game on.

    There are some great Texas sites that have potential. Consistent wind seems to be the desire. I live in Arizona, so I'm watching solar power. The sun is consistent down here, and there are designs that can even produce power when the sun is obscured for days. And in the night.

    We'll need a mix of technologies, just as we have now, and a way to retrofit existing generators. Not easy. Not cheap. This will cost us more, just the way it is.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:22PM (#30697654) Journal

    Man, I completely don't remember, now, where I saw this, but I remember seeing a clip at the beginning of a comedy movie from like the 1940 or 1950's or something, where one guy is sent out by his wife to sell pies, and he meets a friend, and they get to talking (while the 'friend' starts eating the pies that are supposed to be sold), and they start up a discussion where they talk about starting a pie company.

    As the discussion goes along, the guy who was gonna start the pie company decides that, in order to keep his costs down, and to generate additional revenue streams, he's gonna buy steel mills (for the metal to make the pie tins from), flour mills, wheat farms and sugar cane plantations, a paper company, a printer (to print labels and advertising), railroads (cheaper shipping around the country), telephone companies, banks - basically, the guy decides he needs to buy the whole economy so that he can get the best price on every product and service which is even peripherally associated with making and selling pies.

    Google Energy, LLC just brought that to mind. Not saying it's a bad idea, but by the time they're done, Google is either going to be broke, or buy everything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:39PM (#30697870)

    The east side of the lake is where all that energy can be found though.

    The east side that has all those sprawling gorgeous beaches and dunes on the fresh water complete with fanatical, and more importantly rich, NIMBY home owners.

    Yeah, we've been trying to get wind farms up here for years, but there's too many rich people. Sucks eh?

  • by ottothecow (600101) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:30PM (#30698576) Homepage
    Price has little to do with cost. It is the market. If oil- and coal-generated electicity is sold for 14/kwh, nuclear power can sell for the same, no problem. Why would windpower outfits sell for less than, say, 11/kwh? They are leaving money on the table. Not many corporations do that.

    Just a quick note on how this works (you are absolutely right). All electricity is bulk purchased from the generators for the same price. The price scales based on demand. The power generators submit minimum bids that they will generate above. An expensive to operate (but quick to turn on) natural gas plant might say "we can bring up 100MW when price hits 30/kwh". The coal plant (a bit cheaper to run but takes a while to bring up and down) might say "We will give you 300MW at any price above 15/kw". What I find to be the clever bit is that nuclear plants bid zero, effectively saying "We will give you 2000MW no matter what" because it takes a LONG time to bring a nuclear plant up after it has been shut down and once it is running, the costs are incredibly low. The grid operators then look at how much electricity demand they have at any point in time and set the purchase price at the lowest price that will meet that demand. *All* of the producers then get paid that same amount (so while the nukes bid zero, they never actually get paid zero).

    I would guess that wind and solar fall into the nuke category of bidding zero since they have no real control or storage options. I would imagine that hydro operates like a mix of gas/coal since while they don't have fuel costs, there is some benefit to keeping your reservoir topped off (higher pressure head of water) and they can turn on and off at a moments notice.

Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. -- Edmund Burke