Google Goes Green

October.24.2011

Google supports green energy initiatives

Google goes greenGoogle is the most successful search engine in the brief history of the Internet. So iconic has Google become that it can be used as a verb (I Googled myself), a national pastime (I Googled myself) and a way for people to connect (I Googled you.) ‘Google’ has even made it into the illustrious Oxford English Dictionary where it has achieved official recognition as a verb. The overwhelming success of Google must surely come as a surprise to its creators who could never have foreseen the behemoth that Google would grow up to be. Affectionately known as the ‘Google guys’, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are going to great lengths to use their new-found super powers for good.

They started by replacing the company’s official motto which was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” with the more memorable “Don’t be evil”. “Don’t be evil” is a motto that they seem to be living up to as the core members of the group realise their promises of using their powers for good. I know what you are thinking, big corporations only window dress their charitable contributions, while secretly harbouring desires for world domination. Google seems to be the genuine exception. Not convinced? Go ahead… Google it!

Mojave Desert Solar Plant

Google goes greenThe Mojave Desert will be the site of Google’s latest contribution to renewable energy development; the Ivanpah solar farm. This $168 million solar farm will have a capacity of 392 MW once completed in 2013. The production of CO₂-free energy will be the equivalent of taking 90 000 cars off the road during the solar farm’s expected 25 year lifespan. 173, 000 Heliostat mirrors will be set up in the desert and will focus the sun’s energy on 450 feet tall ‘power towers’ which convert water to steam.

Solar States

Moving closer to home, Google announced recently a $280 million partnership with solar installers Solar City. The money will go to cover the capital outlay of solar systems. Residents across the States can rent the systems from Solar City, thereby alleviating the expense of setting up their own solar arrays. Solar City is responsible for the installation and maintenance of the solar system during the lease period. Residents can lease the solar systems and still save on their utility bills, without the necessity for a large capital outlay. This initiative brings Google’s investment in solar energy to date to an impressive $680 million – not so evil now, are they?

Winds of Change

Google goes greenA 350-mile stretch of the United States’ Atlantic coastline is about to be transformed into the first offshore wind farm to supply almost 2 million American homes with clean energy. Situated 10 to 15 miles off the coast, the development is an initiative of the Atlantic Wind Corporation. The project’s total cost of $5 billion got off to a good start with Google investing 37.5% so that the company can begin installation.

Google.org

This not-for-profit was created with over a billion dollars of Google shares. The organization has to date funded the development of electric cars, supported research to develop renewable sources of energy that are cheaper than coal and donated $100 million to schemes that alleviate poverty and create awareness for climate control. They support a number of third world initiatives that hope to develop education and essential services and stimulate growth for small and medium businesses.

Stand Up for Solar

March.13.2011

stand up for solarThe Ontario government has made several ground breaking advances in promoting the development of renewable energy through subsidies with the FIT and microFIT initiatives. So popular has the program been that the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has been overwhelmed with applications from home and business owners. This blossoming development has seen the renewable energy capability of Ontario increase to 1,300MW — enough to power more than 300,000 homes, making it one of the 10 solar hotspots in North America. The OPA has further guaranteed development of the Ontario economy by insisting that 60% of the solar power systems installed in the province be made locally.
stand up for solarThe insistence on local content has made the province a viable and attractive prospect for solar companies. Companies like Canadian Solar, Silfab SpA and others have opened plants in Ontario in recent months, creating much needed ‘green collar’ jobs. The increase in contracts has seen solar installers popping up like mushrooms. Solar installers provide thousands of jobs in the solar power industry.
Another incentive for growth is the sharp decline in prices for solar power systems; PV solar systems cost half of what they did in 1998. A recent study by Duke University showed that the ballooning costs of nuclear plants last year resulted in the crossover eagerly anticipated by renewable energy companies for decades; solar is finally cheaper than nuclear! But trouble may be on the horizon. The McGuinty government has shown a strong preference for nuclear and gas electricity production, refurbishing two nuclear reactors at the Bruce power plant with plans to build two more. The opposition has shown strong resistance to the FIT and microFIT initiatives, threatening to scrap the programmes altogether. The OPA has also hinted at future reductions in FIT and microFIT subsidies which would slow solar power installations dramatically and lead to the closure of solar companies and a loss of jobs in the province.
The Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) represents various interests in the solar industry. Said ex-chair David Eisenbud; “By 2025, solar energy expects to be widely stand up for solardeployed throughout Canada, having already achieved market competitiveness and no longer needing government incentives. By 2025 solar will be supporting more than 35,000 jobs and displacing 15 to 31 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, while providing a safer, cleaner environment for generations to come.” All this will be jeopardised should FIT and microFIT subsidies be halted or altered.
When the German government threatened to reduce solar funding, members of the solar industry and local communities campaigned to have their subsidies extended. So great was the support that the German government revised its plans. CanSIA is hoping to drum up similar support. To this end, they are launching the Stand Up for Solar campaign. A website, standupforsolar.ca, allows you to create awareness through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and email or tweet your MPP to voice your support for the solar industry. If you want the government to vote for solar in the October elections, you will have to join those in the solar industry to make a stand. 

Go to the website, donate funds or post the site on your social media outlets to spread the word.

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