Google’s Renewable Energy Investments

Lynne Kiesling

Google’s blog has a post describing their new investment in BrightSource Energy and linking to lots of background information on their renewable investments. BrightSource does large-scale solar.

This is part of Google’s RE < C initiative, through which they channel their investments with an objective of making renewable energy cheaper than coal-fueled energy. Their FAQ gets at the question of why Google would be doing this:

This initiative is not just about creating clean, affordable electricity for Google – though we are keenly interested in making our business as environmentally sustainable as possible. If successful, this effort would likely provide a path to replacing a substantial portion of the world’s electricity needs with renewable energy sources. We want to do our part, but that won’t be enough alone to thwart climate change; we need a worldwide green electricity revolution to do that.

OK, fine. But what’s the return to Google? They clearly don’t see it as a short-run bottom-line reduction in their own energy costs. So what’s motivating it? Brand capital and reputation capital? I have my ideas, but I would like to hear yours.


12 thoughts on “Google’s Renewable Energy Investments

  1. Well first, it helps their “do no evil” branding…which these days is taking some hits. Second, they may be putting money into energy technology generally with the eye towards a bet down the road it helps their energy bill specifically (which some analyst estimate is about 3/4 a billion dollars.

  2. They’re trying to make up for their inexcusable position on Chinese censorship.

    Either that, or it’s the same reason Bill Gates spends so much money fighting AIDS. Someone that rich is capable of funding large scale projects that might make a difference. Then they end up getting remembered for something really good, instead of some of the slimy things they did in their businesses.

  3. They’re trying to make up for their inexcusable position on Chinese censorship.

    Either that, or it’s the same reason Bill Gates spends so much money fighting AIDS. Someone that rich is capable of funding large scale projects that might make a difference. Then they end up getting remembered for something really good, instead of some of the slimy things they did in their businesses.

  4. 1) Google executives are very smart, and some are *really* pretty idealistic; the company has a lot of money to spend, so they can think long term.

    2) Google doesn’t do well unless the overall economy does well over the long term, and I think they know about peak Oil&Gas, and what happens if we try to make up for with coal.

    3) As a whole, the SF Bay Area is *intensely* aware of climate change issues – the +1meter rise expected in sea level by 2100 will cause serious problems, and local governments are already discussing what to do about it, for example, at a meeting I attended a few weeks ago. CA as a whole worried about global warming and the effects on water supply [snowpack melt patterns].

    The main Google campus is 1-2 feet above sea level.

    4) Google has *always* worried about energy efficiency because they worry about big scaleups, and one can see that in even Google’s first commercial server box, which we have in the Computer History Museum near their campus.

    Of course, efficiency issues have long been a concern here. Berkeley and Stanford have active research programs, and many USA efficiency improvements started in the SF Bay Area, for example, via Art Rosenfeld, for example. The local utility, PG&E gives away CFLs and works hard on efficiency, because the CA PUC rules incent them to make more money via efficieny, not just generating more GW. In the last 30 years, US average electricty/per capita has gone up almost 50%. CA’s is flat, and low.

    5) Google provides busses with WiFi and does other things to encourage less use of cars.

    6) Of course, it’s not just brand equity, it’s *recruiting*: worrying about environment is a plus around here.

    7) And finally, Silicon Valley is entering all-out spin-up mode on energy efficiency and alternative non-fossil fuels and electricity supplies. Serious VCs starting to invest big-time. Leading companies expect energy to get more expensive, and hence are investing and bragging about it, and sharing expertise in the ways SV companies have done for many decades. Google is not the only one doing this, probably just the most profitable, and certainly very visible.

    8) Anyway, some of this is specifically Google; much of it is the milieu in which Google is located.

  5. Forex Demo Account

    A lot of money is being spent to ensure that Tenerife maintains it’ s position as a top holiday destination and a wise investment, maybe this is the year that you will finally make the big move.

  6. automatic fx trading software

    We have not made back our investment, but we are in the process; we are accruing. We have high hopes. The idealistic side was, let\’s throw this out there, why not. And the mercenary side was honestly, it\’s honestly promotional.\”

  7. automatic fx trading software

    We have not made back our investment, but we are in the process; we are accruing. We have high hopes. The idealistic side was, let\’s throw this out there, why not. And the mercenary side was honestly, it\’s honestly promotional.\”

Comments are closed.