While solar energy and wind power are comparatively clean and green compared to coal-fired and gas power generation, the greenest kilowatt is the kilowatt that doesn’t have to be produced; i.e. by improving energy efficiency.
The team at Google are well known for their passion for renewable energy. The company has been investing in solar power companies, the development of electric vehicles and has also installed 9212 solar panels that cover the rooftops of eight buildings and two solar carports at the Googleplex in California.
More recently, Google has been developing a project that could potentially benefit millions – the Google PowerMeter. The application will show consumers their electricity consumption in near real-time in a secure iGoogle Gadget environment. In order to gain access to data from users of the PowerMeter, participating homes will need to be equipped with a new form of electricity meters called “smart meters.”
A smart meter is a type of advanced electricity meter that monitors consumption in more detail than a conventional meter and communicates that information back to a local electricity utility via a network for the purposes of monitoring and billing.
At a Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra (COA) meeting in 2006, all state governments committed to the progressive rollout of smart metering technology from 2007. Victoria is the first Australian state expected to have 100% coverage. There are currently about 40 million smart meters in use worldwide, projected to increase to 100 million in the next few years.
At present, Google PowerMeter is a closed beta testing program, but the company is working with utility companies and smart meter manufacturers with view to rolling out the PowerMeter application to all. The cost to use Google PowerMeter? It will be free of charge.