Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Googleplex Going Solar

While I often don't post about stories that literally everyone else is discussing, this news is just too cool to pass up: Google's going to put solar panels on its Mountain View, CA, corporate campus. According to the company's official blog:

Soon we plan to begin installation of 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at our Mountain View campus. This project will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and we think it's one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. The panels will cover the roofs of the four main buildings of the Googleplex, and also those of two additional buildings across the street. There will also be a portion of this installation on new solar panel support structures in a few parking lots. The amount of electricity that will be generated is equivalent to powering about 1,000 average California homes. WeÂ’ll use that electricity to power several of our Mountain View office facilities, offsetting approximately 30% of our peak electricity consumption at those buildings.

To tackle this ambitious project, we're partnering with EI Solutions. The installation of clean and renewable power represents a first step in reducing our environmental impact as a company. We believe that improving our environmental practices is not only our responsibility as a corporate citizen, but good business planning -- a new report from the North American Electric Reliability Council suggests that demand continues to outstrip power supply by a considerable margin. And of course by saving electricity (not to mention producing clean renewable energy), we also save money. In fact, we believe this project demonstrates that a large investment in renewable energy can be profitable.
That last point is probably the most important part of this whole story -- if Google, a company that obviously uses tons of electricity, can prove a business case for installing renewable generation technology, than the movement towards solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy technologies should be smokin' fast. I wonder if Microsoft plans to try to match or outdo this... 'cause that what Google wants. According to the Boston Globe, the company's vice president of real estate issued a challenge of sorts: "We hope corporate America is paying attention. We want to see a lot of copycats' of this project, [David] Radcliffe said." Very cool!

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