Tuesday, October 28, 2008

portland google electric

could google be your next power company? i say, google for president. this article reviews google's new interest in investing in renewable energy. here it is thomas friedman. of course, thomas friedman in his recent book, applauds google's interest in "clean electrons," but has one problem with the company's justification by equation, RE < C, meaning a need for renewable energy cheaper than coal. friedman say, "It is true that renewable energy that is cheaper than coal is necessary, but, as I have argued, it is not sufficient. We also need innovation to improve energy and resource productivity, and we need an ethic of conservation - without which RE < C could wipe out massive amounts of biodiversity." i think friedman is probably a little harsh on google at this point in his book, and i don't see how a need for cheap renewable resources would contribute to a loss of biodiversity, however i do agree that cheap renewable resources cannot be the only answer and that stringent conservation must be employed as well. as the article in the times points out, at just its data center in the dalles, or (not very far from portland at all) google uses, "50 megawatts — enough to power 37,500 homes — but was built to handle even more capacity." luckily, most of this power in the dalles is already generated by hydroelectric dam on the columbia river, and as the article notes google has always sought to reduce its consumption of energy and increase its efficiency, but friedman's point is that just assuring that such a large consumption of energy comes from a hydroelectric dam or kites producing wind power is not enough. data center and skyscrapers and every other company and household in america must invest and invent new ways to conserve energy and materials.

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