Eric Schmidt with GE's CEO Jeff Immelt at Google's Zeitgeist conference. Photo: Google
Expanding and improving the United States’ electrical transmission grid would be a major building block in creating an electrical supply that is reliable, efficient and clean. The move to make that happen got a new ally today: Google. The internet giant has announced that it will be partnering with GE to work on both the technological side of the problem as well as the policy angle. This is the plan:
Tech: Geothermal + Plug-In Vehicles
Initially the technological focus will be on developing utility-scale renewable energy—which for Google means enhanced geothermal systems (at least to start)—and software, controls and services to allow utilities to integrate plug-in vehicles into the grid.
Policy: More Capacity + Smart Grid
Two initial policy challenges will be tackled. 1) Expanding the capacity of the transmission grid so that renewable energy can be brought from the places where it is most easily generated to where it is most needed—the existing grid isn’t optimal for this. 2) Development of a smart grid, which will allow electricity users to better manage their electric usage and ultimately consume less electricity through better efficiency.
Google’s official blog explains its vision of a smart grid, if not exactly how this would be implemented:
We all receive an electricity bill once a month that encourages little except prompt payment. What if, instead, we had access to real-time information about home energy use? What if our flat screen TVs, electronic equipment, lights and appliances were programmed to automatically adjust to save money and cut energy use? What if we could push a button and switch the source of our homes' electricity from fossil fuels to renewable energy? What if the car sitting in our garage ran on electricity – the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline – and was programmed to charge at night when electricity is cheapest?
:: Google/GE partnership announcement
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