Google Is Doing What the Government Can’t?
Andrew Winston Environmental Strategist, The Huffington Post, October 28, 2010
…………….As many pundits have lamented, we seem to have completely lost our ability to consider, invest in, and complete big infrastructure projects. This does not bode well for our future.
But just when I was thoroughly discouraged, Google announced recently that it would invest heavily in a truly innovative energy infrastructure project. The tech giant and some other investors are proposing a $5 billion “transmission backbone” for offshore wind farms along the East Coast. This new 350-mile line would connect Virginia to, yes, New Jersey, and allow for much easier, cheaper development of offshore wind (it would also, as a side benefit, get some cheaper energy already produced in Virginia up to the northern states).
This is in no way the first time that Google has made noise about clean tech. A few years ago it announced its intention to invest a billion dollars to help make renewable energy cheaper than coal. The company has also put in place one of the largest corporate solar installations in the world.
But why would Google invest so much in these kinds of projects? It’s easy to dismiss it as the socially-minded whim of a cash-rich company. But that’s not giving the company much credit for being a smart operator. Given the resource-intensity of its giant data centers — there’s a persistent, believable rumor that Google is the largest energy user in the State of California — trying to bring the cost of renewables down is a great hedge strategy. What growing enterprise wouldn’t want to rely increasingly on energy with zero variable cost?…………………