Clean Energy Future Modeled By Google

Internet giant Google has done much in recent years to show its dedication to clean energy. In fact, just in the last few months, Google has thrown its philanthropic arms around renewable energy to the tune of over hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, Google is posing some interesting questions about the role clean energy could play in our future. Questions such as “what if we knew the value of innovation in clean energy technologies?,” and,  “how much could new technologies contribute to our economic growth, enhance our energy security or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?”

Using its expertise and robust data resources in conjunction with McKinsey’s Low Carbon Economics Tool (LCET), Google has come up with several models and made some analyses that present some possible answers to those questions. Google says its report isn’t intended to be a prediction of the future, rather a presentation that “could provide a new perspective on the economic value of public and private investment in energy innovation.” Certainly, it points out the need for strong clean energy policies if clean energy is to live up to its potential role in the global economy.

image via Google

Google says its analysis made some assumptions that certain breakthroughs in clean energy technology had taken place and that certain clean energy policies had been put in place as well. Below is an excerpt of some of the highlights from the report:

  • Energy innovation pays off big: We compared “business as usual” (BAU) to scenarios with breakthroughs in clean energy technologies. On top of those, we layered a series of possible clean energy policies (more details in the report). We found that by 2030, when compared to BAU, breakthroughs could help the U.S.:
    • Grow GDP by over $155 billion/year ($244 billion in our Clean Policy scenario)
    • Create over 1.1 million new full-time jobs/year (1.9 million with Clean Policy)
    • Reduce household energy costs by over $942/year ($995 with Clean Policy)
    • Reduce U.S. oil consumption by over 1.1 billion barrels/year
    • Reduce U.S. total carbon emissions by 13% in 2030 (21% with Clean Policy)
  • Speed matters and delay is costly: Our model found a mere five year delay (2010-2015) in accelerating technology innovation led to $2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP, an aggregate 1.2-1.4 million net unrealized jobs and 8-28 more gigatons of potential GHG emissions by 2050.
  • Policy and innovation can enhance each other: Combining clean energy policies with technological breakthroughs increased the economic, security and pollution benefits for either innovation or policy alone. Take GHG emissions: the model showed that combining policy and innovation led to 59% GHG reductions by 2050 (vs. 2005 levels), while maintaining economic growth.
  • Want to know more about Google’s cleantech efforts? Read our archive of stories.

    1 Comment

    • Reply July 2, 2011

      Alex Lester

      I have extensive experience in forecasting and with the proper assumptions anything can be indicated as being a good thing.u00a0 I wonder what these so called breakthroughs are and what the probability of them is.u00a0 In addition I wonder what costs were assumed.nnNow I can fix all our energy issues with some simple assumptions as follows:nnCheap room temperature superconductors.nnCheap print on solar collectors with 50% efficiency.nnCheap nuclear fusion.nnNone of these is likely, so any projections based on these assumptions is invalid.

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