Internet giant Google has applied for permission to buy and sell wholesale electric power as a marketer. The application was made on 23 December by Google’s new Delaware-registered subsidiary, Google Energy, to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that regulates the US power grid.
Niki Fenwick, a Google spokeswoman, said the corporation is not seeking to become an energy trader, but rather wants greater flexibility for buying renewable energy for its electricity-hungry data centres.
Google – which became the world’s largest search engine a decade ago – claimed to be carbon neutral in 2008 (see Table 2), but is heavily dependent on offsets. "Right now, we can't buy affordable, utility-scale, renewable energy in our markets," says Niki Fenwick. Google Energy was formed to “identify and develop opportunities to contain and manage the cost of energy for Google”.
Google’s interest in energy is not purely introspective. Last year it launched Google PowerMeter, a web-based home energy use tool and has partnered General Electric to work on smart grids, energy software and plug-in hybrid technology. Google invests in renewable energy through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, and its venture capital units.
Google also recently rented goats to maintain the lawns of its California headquarters in a low carbon (high-methane?) way