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Google Grabs Green Leap Award for Alternative Energy Plan

Search Engine Giant Google Wins Green Leap Award

Google Goes GeenThis is a new feature we’ve added in order to highlight organizations and companies who have made noteworthy contributions to developing a clean energy policy based on renewable power. We recently profiled Cal Green Lending, Real Goods, and Nanosolar, and these companies are retroactively awarded this distinction as well.

Today we’d like to salute…well…a giant media corporation. Not just any multibillion-dollar press magnet, either; Google is the most active web entity on Earth, attracting over 80 million visitors daily to its search result pages and other web services.

“To Google” has become an infinitive transitive verb meaning, “to instantly research any topic.” According to our site statistics, there is a 75% chance you arrived here via Google referral.

Google exercises god-like power over the Internet, defining the user experience and revolutionizing the core concept of advertising with the Google Adsense program, which enables millions of independent content creators to easily place ads on their site.

The start-up in San Jose has gone on to become one of the wealthiest corporations on Earth, and many online talking heads (and the courts) regularly debate the dangers of concentrating so much power in a single company. What is not debatable is that Google is one of the most active corporate voices on behalf of alternative energy.

Google has been putting these considerable funds where its press releases are, adding the world’s largest solar array to the Mountain View facility, and we’ve reported previous;y on the investment founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have made in the ultra-thin printed solar modules from Nanosolar.

The latest news is the best yet: the “.org” side of the loudest voice in technological development has issued a bold plan to “Green the Grid” and shift the majority of energy production away from fossil fuels by 2030. Drafted by Jeffrey Greenblatt, who is the Climate and Energy Technology Manager for Google, the analysis recommends an investment of $4.4 trillion in a combination of solar, wind, and geothermal power. The program calls for 88% of grid electrcity to be produced from earth-friendlier technology by the target date.

We’d like to quibble a bit with the low goals for the vehicle fuel aspect of this plan…a piddling 38% percent reduction of petroleum in 20 years. The plan focuses on using electricity for transportation , which is nice, but will require a completely new infrastructure of charging stations and new vehicle factories,

Greenblatt also oddly presumes that electrical power will be cheap and abundant, which seems unrealistic, considering the effort which will be needed to accommodate existing and inflating demand for household and commercial electricity. We’d be robbing the lights to pay the tank.

At Holy Solar, we’d like to see 80% or more of a reduction in petroleum fuel by 2030, which can not be accomplished with electric cars alone. We were not able to find a single reference to the role of biofuels. Also, the notion of offering rebates to “retire older cars early,” is wasteful of the existing vehicles and the energy that went into building them.

It also ignores the millions of poor who have never owned a new car and probably never will. This was clearly a plan drawn up by someone with a well-paying career, but the fact is that this comes at a time when auto manufacturers are struggling to sell new vehicles at all.

So, as you stride up to the podium to collect your award, Dear Google, please do take a moment to think bigger about the potential of biofuels to achieve for vehicles what solar, wind and geothermal power do for electricity…allow a gradual shift while salvaging the existing infrastructure. Let’s not throw millions of vehicles to the scrap heap when a simple modification can make them burn more cleanly.

Nevertheless, this plan is admittedly a first draft; what we’d like to salute is the way this media giant is pioneering the dialogue about going beyond the inconvenient truth to investing in the technology to make this the time for a Green Revolution. Therefore, Google is hereby named winner of this week’s “Green Leap Award.”

Alternative Energy Financing :
Making Solar Make Sense

Fed up with paying in to a private monopoly which is still holding us hostage with pollution-generating power plants? Tired of talking about the energy crisis and ready to invest in a future off the grid? Good for you.

Now that you’ve decided to go solar, you face some tough choices about finances. The power generated by the Sun is 100% free, but the photovoltaic collectors which convert this energy still represent a substantial investment. A little sticker shock is common among homeowners who have estimated the household electricity use, and found that their planned solar array will cost as much as a new vehicle.

The average home practicing energy-conscious conservation is using 5-7 Kwh/ day. In order to depend entirely on solar power, this home might need about 2 or 3 KW of PV module, at a jaw-dropping cost of at least $5,000 per kilowatt. Grid-tie installation can often cost up to one-third of the total, and a state-of the-art inverter, backup generator, and storage battery cells can bring the total into the stratosphere.

The math may be daunting, but through a little creative conservation, applicable tax credits, and financing from lenders friendly to environmental projects, most residential solar installations become a practical reality. Some homeowners are pleased to discover that their home can be solarized for even less than their current electricity bill.

Most homeowners are aware of Federal alternative energy tax incentives of $2,000 and 0% interest bonds which may offset part of the cost, as well as various state programs. These can bring down the total cost of the project, but most middle-class homeowners will still be tempted to balk at committing a year’s salary to a single purchase.

The answer is the same mechanism which made it possible for you to own your home in the first place: a loan. While the notion of going even further in debt may not appeal at first, it bears pointing out that a solar or wind system begins paying for itself from the moment of installation, by reducing or eliminating the monthly energy bill.

By distributing the cost of PV modules, invetrters, and grid-tie installation across 15-30 years, the monthly cost of home electricity is locked in near the current rates, until the loan is paid and the energy becomes entirely free. Another key consideration is that the investment in a solar or wind electrical syatem adds value to your property-an added 20/watt, according to current assessment guidelines.

In addition to hedging against likely hikes in local energy prices, adding solar power is a wise investment in home improvement. Since solar homes are still reasonably rare on the market, and increasingly in demand, alternative energy amentities may also help a home sell more quickly…an important consideration in a sluggish real estate market.

Of course, your bank may not be cutting-edge enough to recognize this. The lending market is quickly growing conservative in the wake of recent foreclosure fiascoes, and some agents may fear risking the primary mortgage by adding a second one.

Fortunately, the green movement is spreading into all corners of the economy, and by choosing a lender such as Cal Green Lending who specializes in financing environmental projects, you can be sure that your application will be reviewed by lenders who comprehend the viability of alternative energy.

Cal Green Lending arranges loans to qualified alternative energy installation projects for both residential and commercial properties nationwide. Visit them to see if they can help make your solar dream a reality.

Cal Green Lending has been awarded the “Green Leap Award” from Holy Solar for making an innovative leap in the approach to alternative energy.

Photovoltaic Rooftop Solar Array photo by Pink Dispatcher courtesy of Creative Commons


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