Google Unveils $4 Trillion Plan to Save Energy

Search engine Google said it has been searching for a ways to convert more of the U.S. to natural energy, save money and increase the number of jobs, all with the aim of having the nation declaring its energy independence from the rest of the world.

With that quest in mind, Google has released a study, Clean Energy 2030, which it said offers proposals and ideas that could meet or exceed those goals over the next two decades.

According to Eric Schmidt, CEO at Google, Mountain View, Calif., “We have seen a total and complete failure of leadership in the political parties of the United States. We’ve been working on a plan to help solve this problem.”

Schmidt shared details of the plan during a meeting last week at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. Google has since posted the entire Clean Energy 2030 report on its Web site and has asked for visitors to comment on the study and offer their own proposals.

What might get a significant number of comments is the cost of implementing Google’s ideas: about $4.4 trillion in undiscounted 2008 dollars, per Google. However, “savings are even greater-$5.4 trillion-returning a net savings of $1 trillion over the 22-year life of the plan,” explained Schmidt.

Key aspects of the Google plan include major reductions in the U.S. of current high-usage energy sources, including a decrease in fossil fuel-based electricity generation by 88%, vehicle oil consumption by 38%, dependence on imported oil by 33%, electricity-sector CO2 emissions by 95%, personal vehicle sector CO2 emissions by 38% and U.S. CO2 emissions overall by 48%.

Schmidt said Google is putting its money where its mouth is, including investing more than $45 million to date in 2008 in companies designing wind, solar and geothermal technologies. Closer to home, Schmidt said that the company is making improvements on its servers and at its headquarters, including $5 million in building-efficiency investments that will pay for themselves in less than three years.

According to the Clean Energy 2030 report, the U.S. has “a real opportunity to transform our economy from one running on fossil fuels to one largely based on clean energy. Technologies and know-how to accomplish this are either available today or are under development . . . We can put a big dent in climate change.”

“The government spends lots of money on many things that are strategic,” said Schmidt during the Commonwealth Club meeting. “It seems to me that energy independence, given the history of the last 10 years, should be at the top of the list.”