Google Releases Report On Clean Energy

Hot off the heels of Google’s recent clean energy investment, the mega-company has another green announcement. A study conducted by the company and released yesterday reports that innovations in green technology could create millions of jobs and add billions of dollars to economic output.

The report, titled “The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation,” posits that federal and private-sector investment in green technologies could help the economy instead of hurting it. The findings were calculated using McKinsey and Company’s US Low Carbon Economics Tool, a set of models that estimate the economic effects of a variety of different policies. The study made some key findings and posits that investments in green energy would drastically reduce the amount of carbon emissions of 2030 while benefiting the economy with an infusion of money and jobs.

The main purpose of the report was to compute the effect of investing in clean energy technologies such as clean power generation, energy storage, and natural gas technologies. In the findings, Google refers to “breakthrough rates of innovation” and examined the cost/performance levels for solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, on-shore and off-shore wind, geothermal power, carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear, hybrid electric vehicles (including the plug-in variety), battery electric vehicles, rapid and long discharge grid-storage, and natural gas. The energy team at Google then modeled these breakthroughs in 14 different scenarios, including technology, policy, and fuel price.

One of the most important findings of the study was that investment in green innovations could benefit the economy while helping the environment. The report found that clean energy investments added $155 billion every year in GDP while creating 1.1 million jobs. Furthermore, household energy costs would be reduced by $942 each year, and oil consumption would also decrease by 1.1 billion barrels every year. Lastly, carbon emissions would be reduced 13% by 2030.

Google’s findings on oil consumption come from the report’s examination of battery technology, which would make electric cars more popular and accessible to the masses. In Google’s model, a decrease in battery costs by 2030 would allow for the production of electric vehicles with a lower cost of ownership than than internal combustion vehicles.

The findings on carbon emissions come from a study on energy storage, which, when coupled with breakthroughs in solar and wind energy, would increase renewables deployment by up to 35% by 2050. The company is already practicing what it preaches when it comes to renewable energy sources: the company has invested in wind farms and recently partnered with SolarCity to provide access to solar panels for homeowners.

Another important finding from the study found that the quicker investments are made in clean energy, the more effective they will be. The study claims that even a five-year delay “could cost the economy an aggregate $2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains, 1.2-1.4 million net jobs, and 8-28 gigatons in avoided greenhouse gases by 2050.”

The study states an extremely ambitious goal: reaching an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The study found, however, that even with “aggressive breakthroughs,” the imagined scenarios never reached an 80% reduction. Thus, the study concludes that multiple strategies are necessary in order to achieve the 80% reduction. One suggestion the study gives is utilizing cheap natural gas in the short term while deploying clean energy for the long term. A “multi-pronged strategy” will be necessary to achieve such a massive reduction, while will combine “innovation and policy to mitigate climate change while growing the economy.”

Google’s optimistic examination of clean energy investment and policy and its effect on the economy is a fascinating look at the economic effects of global warming. The assertion that clean energy could actually benefit the economy instead of hurting it is an inspiring idea, especially while the economy is in a recession.

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