Google Releases Clean Energy Innovation Report
Google has been one of the biggest corporate investors into renewable and clean energy technologies. In fact, the search engine giant has invested over $780 million in clean energy technologies and innovations such as wind power and both solar farms and rooftop solar installation. The company is also involved with electric car developer Aptera, biofuel venture Cool Planet Biofuels, and power conversion pioneer Transphorm. Now, Google has crunched the numbers to uncover just how much change clean energy technology and innovation could have on the economy and the environment in a report it has released this summer.
According to Google, clean technology innovations can add 1.1 million jobs and $158 billion to the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) per year, while reducing annual household energy costs by $942 per home by 2030. If policies are made stronger, those numbers could increase to a GDP of $244 billion and nearly 2 million jobs, while saving homes $995 annually.
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The Google report uses a calculation tool provided by McKinsey and Co., coupled with government data and assumptions based on industry trends. The report presupposes breakthroughs in technology and more aggressive clean tech energy policies to fulfill such figures. It covers everything from clean power generation to electric cars, energy storage to natural gas.
According to Google, a delay in increasing investment and development in clean tech between 2010 and 2015 will result in $2.3 trillion to $3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP and cost 1.2 million to 1.4 million jobs by 2050.
The report’s predictive models reveal that significant replacement of coal with clean energy sources isn’t likely to occur until after 2030. But after then, clean technologies like solar and geothermal will be cheap enough to replace the dirty yet widespread power source.
Google also notes that cheap natural gas will likely slow down clean energy development over the next few decades. However, the report claims that natural gas is still cleaner than coal, and its widespread use will create cheap electricity, thus making electric cars more viable.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly