According to a report released by Google on June 28, 2011, breakthroughs in renewable energy technology could boost the U.S. economy by more than $155 billion a year and create more than 1.1 million new green careers by 2030. The study by the Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising giant’s philanthropic arm examined the possible benefits of aggressive innovations in renewable energy generation, grid-storage, and electric vehicle and natural gas technologies.
“This project’s analysis suggests that breakthroughs in renewable energy technologies could meaningfully improve the quality of our lives,” suggested the Google report.
In addition to improving the U.S. economy, development of new renewable energy technology would reduce U.S. household energy costs by $942 a year, lower oil consumption by more than 1.1 billion barrels a year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent by 2030.
The Google analysis did not consider the best ways to drive innovation or attempt to predict what renewable energy technologies would be developed. Breakthrough levels in the Google report were also highly ambitious and “would be challenging to reach even with a much more concerted push on innovation than at present.”
Google has pledged to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy including solar, wind and geothermal technologies to help make renewable energy costs competitive with coal.
Renewable energy policies could create 1.9 million green careers
In its report, Google found that the impact of renewable energy breakthroughs would be enhanced if coupled with government policies such as a renewable energy standard that increased EPA regulations on coal or with a $30 a ton fee on carbon emitted by the power-sector. The Google report also found that renewable energy policies combined with technological breakthroughs would increase GDP by $244 billion a year and create 1.9 million green careers by 2030.
“Breakthroughs in clean [renewable] energy technology can reduce the cost associated with implementing policies such as Clean Energy Standards or carbon prices — growing the economy while de-carbonizing our energy use,” the Google report stated.
At the same time, the report said government policies can magnify the benefits of technology breakthroughs by promoting renewable energy sources over those with high emissions. Earlier this month, Google said it would finance a $280 million residential solar power project with SolarCity, a San Manteo, CA-based provider of solar energy system design, financing, installation. Google, along with several other companies, is also backing a $5 billion transmission line that would transport electricity from wind farms off the Atlantic.
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