Can Google Save The World?

Imagine if every time you flushed your toilet, half of the “clean” water leaked on the floor. How long would it take you to replace the toilet? Probably not long. Well, did you know the average desktop computer wastes over half the power delivered to it? Servers are better, but still lose about one-third of the power consumed.

Now imagine if you are running the world’s ultimate answer machine, Google. Google now has more than 450,000 servers spread in at least 25 locations around the world. I have discussed the tremendous energy use of Google before (See Previous Post). One large data center can consume enough juice to power a small city of 30,000 to 40,000 people.

As a certified Google fan-boy, I read with interest Google’s announcement yesterday of a a new strategic initiative to to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. They will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies. Google is hiring hundreds of engineers and energy experts to lead its research and development work.

“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers. We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”
-Larry Page, Google Co-founder

“Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind”

-Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder

Learn More:

  • The Climate Savers Computing Initiative brings together industry, consumers and conservation organizations to significantly increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers.
  • If Google’s homepage was changed to black, instead of white, could this save energy? Read More.