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Google Details and Defends Its Use of Electricity

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

Earth 237

theodp writes "On Thursday, Google finally provided information on its energy usage, revealing that it continuously uses enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. Still, the search giant contends that by using more power than Salt Lake City, Google actually makes the world a greener place. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, driving to the library. As Police Chief Martin Brody might say, 'Google's going to need a bigger windmill!'"

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237 comments

What? (5, Insightful)

samjam (256347) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350338)

Google is not simply using that energy, that energy is being used by google users all over the world.

Those same users are also using energy locally to connect to the internet.

Re:What? (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350392)

Besides you wont find information about these important topics in the library 1. contagion 2. green bay packers 3. donald driver 4. drew brees 5. tonga 6. aaron rodgers 7. go daddy 8. 9 11 9. irb 10. blackout 11. new zealand 12. super bowl 2011 13. 9/11 14. iceland 15. new orleans saints 16. reggie bush 17. michael j fox 18. kid rock 19. jordin sparks 20. javascript

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350448)

That you can find at the library. What you won't find there is ...

Today, LucidBeast (601749) looked for:
(1) google trending topics,
(2) boobies,
(3) lunch beast sammich
(4) lucid* lifestyle
(5) boobies.

More importantly... (4)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350350)

Google is also paying for their energy.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350372)

Re:More importantly... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350426)

Which is fine. You and I are the ones actually "using" google's electricity.

Re:More importantly... (0)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350690)

Which is fine. You and I are the ones actually "using" google's electricity.

I prefer the term "smoke" rather than use and I prefer the term "crack" rather than electricity.

Re:More importantly... (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350920)

Hmm...a LARGE IT/Information company uses a lot of electricity....big news?

And seriously...is someone out there complaining? Is this killing a spotted owl out there somewhere?

Re:More importantly... (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350596)

Every bulk buyer get a big discount. If you think google uses a lot, you should see what some industrial companies that use electricity-heavy manufacturing processes (like the aluminum industry) uses. A lot of those guys have large power plants dedicated solely to them.

Re:More importantly... (5, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350634)

Google chose the site for one of it's data centers to take advantage of a hydro power plant that had formerly supplied an aluminum foundry.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350968)

Exactly, so they are also recycling.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350732)

Not likely. A company the size of Google when looking for a place to build a facility gets courted by many municipalities. One of the first things offered for free are utilities. If you look around at the largest businesses in your city, they more than likely pay no utility bills what-so-ever.

What is different about Google is.... (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350360)

that they are investing into clean energy. Other companies run around screaming that they want coal, while Google says AE. Personally, I wish that Google would make use of some of that money to help create demand for geo-thermal energy, rather than simply investing in it. Honestly, if they insisted on buying energy directly from some geo-thermal locations, they could still manage to keep their costs low, while creating enough demand to stimulate it.

Re:What is different about Google is.... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350700)

They kinda have too. If Google uses that much power, their Power bill(s) is probably a major expense, finding ways to reduce it by a few percentage, can save a lot of money. Green Energy like wind and solar, needs big power users, who see energy as a major expense and has the resources and will to invest in making cheaper alternatives. Renewable energy sources tend to look good on paper you can get Cheaper Energy in theory after the initial capital expense.

Re:What is different about Google is.... (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351194)

Exactly. People don't realize that big energy users are the people who would love to save energy the most. The trucking industry, for example, would LOVE to find some tech that would improve their gas mileage by even 1%, it would save a lot of these companies Millions of dollars per year.

Re:What is different about Google is.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351692)

Then why doesn't google put there data centers in Arizona and power it with a 200Mw solar thermal plant? they could even sell the energy to a nearby by town.

Re:What is different about Google is.... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350726)

Geothermal cannot be done safely, cleanly, or efficiently in the USA, or any other corporatism. We have the world's largest geothermal plant in the world's most geothermally active region and it is not only continually over budget and under production, but cleaning the turbine blades led to a superfund site where they buried the detritus removed from them, and has also produced a big fat layer-cake of arsenic and other wonderful materials on site, a cake that is just waiting to break open due to seismic activity.

Re:What is different about Google is.... (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351224)

There's just not enough geothermal power available to be a primary power source. It's great for towns with a local hotspot (though if locally overused it can apparantly cause earthquakes and strange environmental damage), but it doesn't scale.

By comparison, per square meter of the Earth's surface, there's about 10000 times as more solar power than geothermal power.

Dear Sirs, (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350362)

You will find that humanity's desire to fill the aching void of its pitiful existence with lolcats and porn is not, in fact, our doing.

Further, because power is one of our major operating costs, you will find that our competitors are unlikely to be able to deliver lolcats and porn appreciably more efficiently than we can.

Here endeth the justification.

it shouldn't be about how much they use (5, Insightful)

lecheiron (2441744) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350368)

but rather are they using the electricity efficiently

Re:it shouldn't be about how much they use (2)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351502)

Google's datacenter design is an industry secret, but it is routinely reported they are amazingly efficient.

They have opened up about some things, such as their power supply design. They've asked the rest of the world to adopt this, so the entire world would reduce energy consumption. They also run on DC rather than AC. And they don't use mammoth UPS protection. They have a small battery built into each server.

It looks like this story is part of a smear campaign to make Google look like evil for using all this energy. But how much energy is Amazon using, or Facebook, or Apple, or Microsoft?

the homes comparison is odd (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350380)

The more relevant comparison seems like it'd be to other commercial users. It's not likely that if Google were disbanded, it would turn into residential population; it's more likely that, if we didn't have Google, we'd have other companies employing these people and occupying a certain niche of the economy.

From that perspective, is Google's energy usage high or low for a company of its market-cap / revenue / profits? For example, it has almost exactly the same market cap as Wal-Mart; how does the energy usage of the two companies compare, both in terms of overall size, and things like greenness of the source?

Re:the homes comparison is odd (2)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350600)

Considering it's Walmart we're talking about they're probably importing cheap energy from unshielded nuclear power plants in China or something.

Re:the homes comparison is odd (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350990)

And the problem with this is?

Re:the homes comparison is odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351290)

we're jealous of their very good deals

Re:the homes comparison is odd (2)

wolvesofthenight (991664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350614)

For example, it has almost exactly the same market cap as Wal-Mart; how does the energy usage of the two companies compare, both in terms of overall size, and things like greenness of the source?

While it might be interesting, comparing the power usage of Google and Wal-Mart is about as useful as the above comparison of Google to residences. Internet search & internet advertising are very different businesses from retail department stores & warehouses. Instead compare Google's power use to that of Microsoft, Yahoo, and other computing/data centre companies. If possible, account for the differences in what each company does. As for Wal-Mart, compare them to K-Mart, Kroger, and maybe even Amazon - they are all retail stores.

Re:the homes comparison is odd (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350746)

Not really that odd. How do you make a figure of that much power consumption relatable to the average reader?

I have no idea how big Wal-Mart is, but saying it has the same market cap as Google is just as pointless. Wal-Mart has thousands (I assume; like I said, I have no idea how to quantify how big they really are, just that they're really really big) of stores, each with a moderate HVAC system attached.

If you want to go that way, you also have to compare transportation costs - not relevant for Google, highly important for Wal-Mart. I'd suspect, by the way, they've got a highly optimized supply chain, because that is a big cost in both terms of money and time, and supply chain management is a highly mathematical science. (Yes, I have an MBA. Deal with it.)

Much easier to say it's enough to power 200,000 homes. Any reader, no matter what their field of expertise, can understand that and say "ahh...well, that's quite a lot, then". If you were writing in Fortune or BusinessWeek, then the comparisons you're thinking of are probably more likely to be well understood by that readership; but this is the NY Times. They can't assume business knowledge expertise.

Re:the homes comparison is odd (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351042)

I guess I find this a red hearing at best.
1. Power to Google is a cost of doing business they are doing all they can to reduce the their power consumption for no other reason the less they spend on power the more profit.
2. It is us that is using the power.
It is kind of like people complaining about GM selling SUVs. They sold SUVs because that is what people bought. If people bought small fuel efficient cars then they would have made them.
Rule one. Don't expect companies to make you do the right thing.
Rule two. Don't expect a company to care more about something than you do.

Re:the homes comparison is odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351398)

It does not matter how much energy it uses or what its market-cap/revenue/profits are. It pays for its energy, that is the only important factor.

Re:the homes comparison is odd (1)

Pionar (620916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351408)

I don't think that's a useful metric either. Google doesn't have thousands of large stores that individually use a lot of energy. Most of Google's energy usage comes from (I assume) the few dozen large datacenters.

BUT TEH GOOGLE RIDES THE NET FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350390)

That's the other side of the wire !! And Teh GOOGLE !! knows it is stealing this for nuthin !! God Save Teh GOGGLE !!

And...? (1)

ApepUK (2445232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350398)

If Google really are "Carbon Neutral" and investing in "green" energy as their blog suggests, then I see no real problem with them using the amount of energy that they do. Google could certainly do more to push renewable energy resources but at the end of the day, it is not their role to do so. Eventually I'm sure the winds of change will bring about a major shift towards renewable energy resources within corporations, the less non-renewable resources available, the higher the price. Corporations are very much focussed on profit, it's inevitable that renewable energy will at some point become cheaper. For the time being though, you can't expect Google to use an infrastructure (let alone create one) that doesn't exist.

Re:And...? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351682)

Agreed. Actually it's a good thing that Google went out of their way to run their operations on clean energy, not-polluting costs money. They're paying extra for good PR and they deserve it.

all energy is good, excessive waste is very good (1, Funny)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350414)

Mud-hut GREENs can choke on it. Every kilowatt humans produce increases our cultural and individual standard of living. We burn against the everlasting night. Bytch Gaia ... the snake-goddess of ebola and rabies, ectopic pregnancy, tsunamis and mongoloids can have energy conservation shoved up her *zzwhole like a pile of burned-out coal slag mixed with the bones of toasted guilt-ridden GREENs.

Re:all energy is good, excessive waste is very goo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350898)

Mud-hut GREENs can choke on it. Every kilowatt humans produce increases our cultural and individual standard of living. We burn against the everlasting night. Bytch Gaia ... the snake-goddess of ebola and rabies, ectopic pregnancy, tsunamis and mongoloids can have energy conservation shoved up her *zzwhole like a pile of burned-out coal slag mixed with the bones of toasted guilt-ridden GREENs.

+1 Informative!

Re:all energy is good, excessive waste is very goo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351312)

A puddle of oil takes millions of years to develop, but you would use all of its energy in days. That is not sustainable, and you'll be crying when the worldwide blackouts start.

OMFG Give me a break (0)

spitek (942062) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350418)

Why do we have to defend ourselves for being paying customers of the power grid! Redic, what is happening to this world! If the Government would get out of the way of the energy sector there would be no legs for this type of sh*t to stand on.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350504)

Exactly, there's no mention of how much power people and towns use for Christmas lights or the toxins expelled into the atmosphere with fireworks each year.

Now, let's do some real comparisons. Compare a steel mill energy usage with Google's. Google is actively trying to reduce it's energy usage, for financial not green reasons, just to be fair. Then look at the heavy industries which could improve their efficiency a lot with a few minor investments, or reduce their environmental impact. I'm thinking China when I say this, but a lot of western companies find ways to screw around laws they don't like as well.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (4, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350510)

The reason that Google needs to defend its use of electricity is because Page and Brin are huge proponents of the need to take drastic action to deal with man caused global warming. When you are a big supporter of those running around telling everybody that the government needs to limit how much energy people can use (limiting how much fossil fuels people can use is the same as limiting how much energy they can use, as we do not have the means, at this time, to replace all of the energy we get from fossil fuels with energy from other sources), then people are going to look closely at how much energy you use.
The issue is not how much energy Google uses. The issue is whether or not Page and Brin are hypocrites. The answer is that they are hypocrites. They preach about Global Warming, yet flew off to the south pacific to view an eclipse.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350606)

Eh, not necessarily. I'm sure they're hypocrites to an extent, but you could make the same argument about people who claim to be animal lovers who aren't vegan. Just because a feeling doesn't rule all aspects of your life, that doesn't mean you're a hypocrite. People who eat meat can still work to benefit animals in other ways (working at the shelter, cleaning up a habitat, etc) and people who care about carbon emissions can both invest in cleaner energy while using massive amounts of it. Besides, Google is one of the largest corporations in the world and is primarily geared towards electronic-powered devices; why wouldn't it use a lot of power?

Also, when you have that kind of money, why shouldn't you be able to see the celestial event of a lifetime? Yeah, they could have put it towards more energy, but people could also use the money they spend on entertainment and give it to charity instead. There's nothing wrong with doing both.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (4, Interesting)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350856)

Just because someone is a hypocrite doesn't mean what they're *saying* isn't valid; it means that what they're *doing* isn't valid.

If you believe someone gives good advice, then calling them a hypocrite isn't a free pass to spend more time criticizing their following of said advice than you do following it yourself.

I honestly don't care how much energy Sergey and Larry use: we'd get a thousand times farther if we reduced the energy footprint of the average American by a tenth of a percent than we will bitching at Google founders until they implement every green technology known to man. Just accept that they're flawed, self-righteous, and hypocritical and move on.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351014)

Well, then I guess you will express similar thoughts the next time someone condemns a prominent promoter of "family values" (or other conservative position) is caught violating those values?
The reason that Brin and Page have to defend themselves from the charge of hypocrisy is that so many in the statist camp constantly try to claim that only people on the other side are hypocritical.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (2, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351334)

Calling someone a hypocrite doesn't invalid their point, but it does put it in a meaningful context. If someone is saying the world is going to end next year and we should all repent, how seriously would you take them if they put a great deal of money into a 2 year CD? That's hypocritical. If they truly believed what they were saying they'd be donating it, or at least blowing it. The fact that they're making a long term investment gives you a gauge on their confidence in their own beliefs. Maybe they're just hedging their bets, sure, but you can be sure they are especially certain (regardless of what they say) that their prediction is correct.

So in this case, you have two guys that in one joy ride spewed about 60 tons of CO2* (vs. 4.5 for a average year's car travel). How serious can they actually think global warming is? Do they want government intervention because they can't control themselves? Or do they not actually give a damn and think/expect the rules won't apply to those with enough money like them?

For me, at least, the latter is the real sticking point. You have all these rich/privileged people like CEOs and congressmen pushing for massive regulation to fix a problem that they disproportionally cause. Between that and the ridiculous cap and trade bill**, it becomes quite clear that people like them are using global warming as an excuse to leverage even more government control and prevent market competition.

So, yes, just because they're hypocritical doesn't mean that global warming is fake. It does, however, speak very strongly to their motivations which is mostly what the GP was addressing.

*According to http://www.conservation.org/act/live_green/carboncalc/pages/methodology.aspx [conservation.org] and a round trip estimate of 6000 miles, which looks about right.
**There's a small chance I'm remembering incorrectly, but even supporters of GW legislation said the bill would to nothing to combat the problem and would only prevent new/small businesses from growing and competing with existing large ones.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (4, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350892)

The reason that Google needs to defend its use of electricity is because Page and Brin are huge proponents of the need to take drastic action to deal with man caused global warming.

But that is a false dichotomy since extreme use of energy does not necessarily imply the energy is obtained from burning coal, fecal matter, babies, dolphins and wood from endangered species in mega furnaces churning tons of smog, sooth, chlorofluorocarbons, weaponized anthrax spores and sarin gas directly into the polar ozone holes.

Taking drastic actions against global warming does not mean turning off the lights completely. It means a lot of other things regarding how to use energy efficiently. And if your business requires to use tremendous amounts of energy but you are doing it in an energy-eco-efficient manner, then you are taking drastic actions.

When you are a big supporter of those running around telling everybody that the government needs to limit how much energy people can use (limiting how much fossil fuels people can use is the same as limiting how much energy they can use, as we do not have the means, at this time, to replace all of the energy we get from fossil fuels with energy from other sources), then people are going to look closely at how much energy you use.

And which is fine and dandy, so long as people do not jump to stupid conclusions of the form (using lots of energy) -> (energy inefficient).

The issue is not how much energy Google uses. The issue is whether or not Page and Brin are hypocrites. The answer is that they are hypocrites.

Your logic is absolutely flawless</rolls eyes>

What is happening here is that you are trying very hard to find a) something to be upset about and b) someone to point the finger at to justify the former.

They preach about Global Warming, yet flew off to the south pacific to view an eclipse.

Because they only way to fight global warming is to live in absolutes and become a hermit living with in kumbaya with the bunnies, the flowers and the dolphins. The audacity of taking a pleasure trip afforded by someone's earned wealth is an unspeakable horror in this world of absolute black and whites, erasing anything of value done or spoken by the aforementioned tree killers when it comes to eco-responsibility.

By that same logic, I should stop myself talking about energy responsibility or forego taking my daughter to the park to enjoy a fine day because ZOMG I'm burning dinosaur juices right into the air!!! The horror, the horror.

Congratulations sir, here is your trophy for winning the competition of infallible logic: a crowbar. It comes very handy to unplug your one's head out of one's ass.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350936)

Because they only way to fight global warming is to live in absolutes and become a hermit living with in kumbaya with the bunnies, the flowers and the dolphins.

I'll believe global warming is a problem, when the proponents ACT like it's a problem.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351052)

Because they only way to fight global warming is to live in absolutes and become a hermit living with in kumbaya with the bunnies, the flowers and the dolphins.

I'll believe global warming is a problem, when the proponents ACT like it's a problem.

Because that piece of rhetoric absolutely and logically follows from my post. Here, let me help you. Define ACT. And by "define" I mean objectively, practically and pragmatically.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351096)

By that same logic, I should stop myself talking about energy responsibility or forego taking my daughter to the park to enjoy a fine day because ZOMG I'm burning dinosaur juices right into the air!!!

If you believe that Global Warming is a problem that justifies massive government intervention into the everyday lives of the majority of people, then the answer is "Yes". There is a difference between talking about energy responsibility and saying that we need to stop building new coal fired electric generating plants and shut down existing ones. Page and Brin are in the latter camp.
I do not have a problem with Page and Brin using thier wealth to fly to the south pacific to view the eclipse. I have a problem with them doing so when they try and tell me that Man caused Gloabal Warming is such an urgent problem that it justifies a vast increase in government power.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351188)

Taxing carbon emissions, or establishing a carbon emissions market, is a vast increase in government power? Are you aware of how the government successfully curbed the acid rain pollution problem?

On what planet do you spend the majority of your time?

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351346)

The big problem is that every technology has a downside. Solar requires large areas of land; hydro requires us to block off rivers; coal pollutes; oil... also pollutes; nuclear is the biggest target of NIMBY-ism I can think of; geothermal is expensive and hard to do properly.

We can't magically fix our energy problems. There is only so much energy capacity in the world. We can only build so many solar panels, so many hydro plants, so man coal or oil plants, so many windmills. The better solution to fixing our energy problems is for us to look into increasing efficiency of existing technologies, using them where necessary, and reducing our energy consumption in general. If our consumption continues to grow, we will eventually be unable to generate enough to power all our stuff.

Seriously, does grandma, who only watches youtube videos of the kids and e-mails her bridge club, need a PC that draws 700W? Does Uncle Bob really need a 63" LCD display when his whole apartment is 10 feet wide? Do we really need to *drive* to the grocery store for a gallon of milk when it's actually quicker to get there by bike?

We can save a *lot* of energy -- and money -- by thinking about our choices.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351686)

The question is not about what we "need". It is about who gets to decide. However, if you are telling that grandma that she shouldn't buy that PC that draws 700W, because she doesn't need it, then you had better not fly off to the south pacific to watch the eclipse, because it is a lot clearer that you don't need to do that than it is that grandma doesn't need that PC.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351274)

Or, you know, it could be that they understand that drastic action doesn't mean moving back to caves and living off of berries. That there is something in between our current use and zero that would mitigate our current problem.

No, couldn't be. Instead of proposing sensible solutions that are easy to implement which have a significant effect, they are hypocrites to be ignored. Let me guess: the only people who aren't hypocrites are the people who tell you what you're doing is A-OK, and that you don't need to change anything about where you get energy from and how you use it.

Personally, I prefer hypocrites to lazy asses who can't take constructive criticism. Your mileage obviously varies.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351662)

I love how when a prominent spokesperson who calls for Americans to return to moral values is caught violating those moral values it is used as evidence that all proponents of moral values are morally bankrupt. But when people who call for Western economies to bankrupt themselves to prevent the disaster of Global Warming are caught acting as if it is no big deal, we are supposed to ignore thier actions and just evaluate thier message.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351432)

You really need to look at the other side of the equation too. How much has, say, Google Navigation saved in fuel saving people from driving around lost? How much has Google search saved from people finding out store hours/comparing prices instead of driving to the stores? etc, etc.

I'm not sure Google saves more energy than it uses, but its naive to only look at one side of the equation.

Re:OMFG Give me a break (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351482)

They flew in a jet, so they dont care about climate change...hasty generalization. You cannot judge someone based off one action. You have to tally everything they do compared to your "ideal" person".

Re: Google, you are comparing totally watts per unit to total units, its not a valid comparison.

Google is one of the largest companies in the world (by market cap). Market cap by watt, its tiny.

I don't have an issue.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350438)

I don't have an issue with Google using more power so we lose less. I have an issue with them using it as an excuse to blame people for power usage, by going to the library. It's the responsibility of big corporations to push economical, green energy, not to push oil and coal on us and then blame the people for global warming etc.

Re:I don't have an issue.. (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350904)

I don't have an issue with Google using more power so we lose less. I have an issue with them using it as an excuse to blame people for power usage, by going to the library. It's the responsibility of big corporations to push economical, green energy, not to push oil and coal on us and then blame the people for global warming etc.

They are not blaming people for going to the library. They are saying, or so their argument goes, they are facilitating people with more energy-efficient means of searching things compared to driving to the library.

That you deliberately chose to interpret their argument the way you did speaks more about your than them. Either that or there is a tremendous failz in reading comprehension.

Re:I don't have an issue.. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351522)

Being from a pre-internet generation, I don't remember rushing to the library more than once because I "had to know right now". Library trips weren't more frequent; knowledge searches were just far more sporadic, waiting until the due date for your currently checked out books. As such, Google can't say they're saving energy that way, but they can say that they're helping to foster a more educated populace (educated in *what* is a separate question). Kind of like how the invention of the vacuum cleaner didn't reduce work for housewives of the era, it actually increased it (pushing a big heavy thing around instead of a broom). But it did make things cleaner, picking up all the dust that brooms left behind.

I get more use out of Google than Salt Lake City (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350490)

So it's a fair trade.

Google says huh.. (4, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350538)

. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, driving to the library.

Sure, because the guy who just searched Google to find out what goatse is would clearly have gone to the library to look up such trivial information had Google not been available....

Re:Google says huh.. (0)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350906)

. Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, driving to the library.

Sure, because the guy who just searched Google to find out what goatse is would clearly have gone to the library to look up such trivial information had Google not been available....

Because goaste and its like are the only (or primary) things people use google for. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

WEED! (0)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350542)

They must be growing a TON of it!

Re:WEED! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350630)

They must be growing a TON of it!

For anyone confused, he's referring to the "Factoid" section in the Salt Lake City article ;)

Google or another company ; still the same. (2)

ALimoges (870872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350584)

In our digital era, if it weren't for Google to offer Search, emails, video streaming, maps, etc ... another company would do it. With that in mind, the question becomes: which company offers these services in the greenest way ? I'm pretty sure Google does.

Re:Google or another company ; still the same. (3, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350680)

... not to mention all of the large .orgs and .edus I've seen that now use some flavor of gmail/docs instead of running their own 24x7 mail & file servers like they did 10 years ago.

Worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350602)

I think Google is worthy of such expenditures. They have transformed the way our society communicates, finds information, navigates the globe, everything.
They have done more for day-to-day human living than anything I can think of in a long time.

Let them use electricity, it's going towards something useful.

Waste what? (2)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350640)

Al Gore didn't invent electricity to be wasted on the internet.

Re:Waste what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351268)

So as soon as Google uses more energy than Al does to maintain his lifestyle, we'll get REALLY mad!

Before Google (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350646)

Wehen I was a kid, we were more green.

Specifically, my dad had a very cool looking light green '67 Ford Galaxie 500 with a 390 cubic inch V8. When I needed info for a report, my mom used it to drive me down to the public library, probably getting about 9 mpg. So we consumed about 20 kWh worth of fully leaded fuel to do a few simple queries. That's probably enough energy to run one of Google's server nodes for more than a week, but at least we did it in style.

Re:Before Google (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350794)

My first car was a '67 Galaxie fastback, though mine only had a 289. unfortunately the frame was rotted away to almost nothing so I sold it to someone with the toosl and space to do a frame swap and restoration. Now that I have the tools and space I'm restoring a '68 Galaxie, though '67 will always be my favorite.

For what it's worth, my '68 with a stockish 460 only making about 330 HP gets just shy of 17 MPG on the highway at 75-80 MPH, with a 3 speed automatic, no overdrive. Once restored I'll have a real 460 in there pushing mroe like 500 HP, along with a T56 (6 speed manual, .5:1 overdrive) and be gunning for 25 MPG at 70 MPH... Comparable to a newer Crown Vic. Should be fun, I enjoy building performance drivelines for classic cars that get good fuel economy. Heck, I had a '63 Falcon for a while that got over 30 MPG highway, was shooting for 40 MPG but unfortunately someone crashed into it and that project was cut short.

Much lower than I expected (2)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350652)

I did a back-of-napkin calculation last night, and came up with about 30-33% of the energy consumption would be related to office operations, and the remainder data center operations. Their data center total came out to something like 170MW demand. Given that a 100,000 square foot data center would be expected to draw about 20MW all-in, the total was much lower than I would have expected. For some reason, I pictured their demand being much higher.

As for alternative energy, green energy, and efficiency, Google really is doing a good job. Comparing them to Bank of America, I would say Google does significantly more for the kWh.

Not a problem here (1)

gwn (594936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350704)

Why is the total electricity used by Google a problem? Google has a huge network of data centers, offices and other business entities that use electricity. The total amount of electricity used is going to be huge.

The real question... has and is Google working to use that electricity wisely and with an eye to maximizing value and minimizing waste? Well from what I have read over the years the answer is Yes.

Everyone, GM, Toyota, the US government, The City of LA, and even my dear old Mom uses electricity (directly and indirectly) and it isn't the total used, but rather the waste (if any) and the strategies to maximize value out of that electricity that needs to be reported and scrutinized.

We all know this right?

Gasoline usage to Libraries? wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350718)

we never did visit public libraries that often.. ..when i was a kid we used to go once a week.
Other kids went once a month, and others once a year, and some none at all.

I don't do google searches once a week, I do them a few times a day.
I never visited the library a few times a day, except when I was on campus at uni.

And when I think about it, I rode my bike to the library.

Using gasoline used to visit libraries is a misguided analogy.

What's the point? (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350730)

Only a fool could imagine that the internet uses more resources than the alternative - mailing or faxing all documents, visiting various libraries in person rather than using Wikipedia and Gutenberg where possible, assembling for all semi-important meetings in person rather than teleconferencing (admittedly most organizations still don't make good use of teleconference), rural folks visiting book stores and computer stores in person rather than getting it shipped, etc.

Why don't FedEx or the New York Public Library have to defend their energy usage, given that the alternative to Google is higher usage of *their* services? Are we trying to make valid, constructive comparisons or are we just fretting about big numbers and bashing every big company with a green-washing CEO to satisfy our own self-righteousness?

So ebil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350772)

Using the electricity they paid for!
Seriously, this obvious smear campaign against Google has to stop at some point, people aren't even trying anymore.

OMG Computers use electricity! get over it (4, Insightful)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 2 years ago | (#37350782)

"Google says people should consider things like the amount of gasoline saved when someone conducts a Google search rather than, say, driving to the library."

This is exactly akin to Software/Content makers saying that every piracy count is exactly one lost sale. If I had to actually drive to the library, I wouldn't actually DRIVE each time I was wondering about some trivial answer to a meaningless question.

All of that said, data centers use electricity.. if we want to do anything e- or i- (or o- or u-, and sometimes y-) we need to realize that. Google is well aware of how much it spends on electricity, and I'm pretty sure they take steps to try and minimize their expenses (such as using warm-boxes instead of cooling ambient air, etc..)

Re:OMG Computers use electricity! get over it (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351506)

I think the bigger problem is that IT removes the need for jobs. Without them we have less tax income to do anything, such as mitigate co2 emissions.

No it's not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37350916)

It's not more power than SLC. The bogus "260MW is enough to power 200K homes" is just a throwaway number. That means the average homeowner uses around 900-1000 kwh a month. The city uses far more power for commerical buildings, lighting, transit, etc.

260 MW seems like a lot, but honestly it's barely a blip. The US used nearly near 4 trillion kwh last year. 260MW * 8760 hours/year = 2.3 billion kwh (assuming no outages), which is 0.06% of US consumption.

I've worked in the power industry for 30 years and seen a lot of misinformation, but this is Gizmodo just trying to fuck over Google.

Bloom Boxes? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351034)

Doesn't Google use Bloom Boxes? [bloomenergy.com] And my personal vex with Bloom Energy is that they don't make a small business version, (cue Sour Grapes Face).

Re:Bloom Boxes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351518)

They are all over the place in what they are using. Hydro, solar, geothermal, gas turbine, grid draw, coal, nuke...

Also when someone says googles data center you are not talking about 1 location either. You are talking about dozens.

They have 4 major costs. Property, people, power, bandwidth.

From what I have heard they take care of their people. They do not seem too interested in lowering their bandwidth (just look at youtube). So that leaves property and power. They have already picked locations they feel they can attract good people and it is a relatively fixed cost anyway. So that leaves power. Which I am sure someone looked up around 2006 and said 'wow that much' then they started investing in making their own. Solar covered buildings, bloom boxes, custom build servers, lower maintenance lawns...

I would bet cash they are extremely aware of how much they use. Well measured and sliced and diced.

They also have the luxury of being able to build themselves up this way. Someone like a GE, Walmart, or even MS it would be a huge capital reinvestment on something that is an already a sunk cost. That can be a hard sell especially if the ROI is 3-10 years out.

They seem to have a good story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351216)

They help produce more AE than the total amount of energy that they use. Thats good enough enough for me. If we all did that then there would little need for coal plants.

Why should you or I care? (1)

Palpatine_li (1547707) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351248)

As long as they are paying an unsubsidized price for it, or they are investing an amount same or more than whatever subsidy in the included in the bill in green tech?

I recall (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351302)

reading that google uses mainly consumer hardware for their servers, lots and lots of them. Not even bothering to remove/turn off/ fix servers when hard drives go bad. Power usage is actually a pretty major concideration in enterprise gear.. I wonder if the majority of their power usage is being wasted because of this choice.

Re:I recall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351524)

This is incorrect. Leaving computers unrepaired is an exceedingly inefficient use of capital. Machines are repaired when they break.

Crappy logic (1)

Microsift (223381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351336)

Okay, honestly there are very few things that I look up on google that I would drive to a library to research.

Am i missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351468)

If Google is paying for the electricity they can and should be able to do whatever they want with it.
If I want to I can leave every f*cking light light on in the house overnight. And who's going to pay that electricity bill for it?

If Google is paying for their electricity why should anyone give a crap over how efficient they use it?
The only company losing out on Google not being more efficient is itself. That's capitalism.

Who grants permission? (1)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351478)

Since when does anyone have to MORALLY justify their energy usage?

Google does some shady things. Using power is not among them.

It's a commodity. They purchase it. Sheesh.

dataservers are industrial engines of 21st century (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351484)

Because the "knowledge industry" is so large these days it makes a measurable impact on natural resources and the GDP.

I'd like to see a comparison to the energy usage in producing a days consumption of food or living in a house. Those numbers are nto small either.

Uh, so Google doesn't know how to use a library... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351512)

Ok Google, most library services are delivered on-line these days--although books and music are still a bit rare right now, most are delivering reference, directory, and at least some periodical services this way. Even if they don't, call or email a reference librarian with your question. That's what they're there for.

Google is officially Evil now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37351586)

Google is actually defending its use of electricity? It's a sugar coating job. Google is profiting from using electricity.

They shouldn't be using electricity at all.

probably efficient per petabyte/petaop (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351606)

Google may have both the most expensive and efficient supercomputer on the planet. This is not contradictory, just huge.

NSA facility south of SLC (1)

stacybro (757940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37351670)

It is interesting that the poster used the power compared to SLC. The NSA is building a new server farm south of Salt Lake and when it was announced they talked a lot about how it would use as much power as Salt Lake City. I wonder how the server farms compare.
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