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Unleashing energy innovation

The Internet, digital music, smart phones - these are just some of the innovations that have changed the way we live and work. Yet the way we use energy - whether it’s powering our cars or our homes and businesses - hasn’t changed in decades. Our economy needs a cleaner, more efficient way of delivering energy while giving people better tools and information to manage their energy use.

The good news is there’s widespread agreement that transforming the energy sector is a big opportunity to create jobs, foster innovation and grow new industries. At Google, we’ve been working to transform our own energy use. We’ve made our data centers the most efficient in the world, built a fleet of electric cars, invested in renewable energy, and developed online tools like Google PowerMeter.

Of course, government policy plays an important role in driving change towards a cleaner economy and it’s important to get the rules right. There’s a real debate happening now in Washington about how to solve the nation’s energy challenges. We don’t have all the answers, but here are a few important areas that policymakers should consider:

  • Drive investments in energy infrastructure and technology. With the right mix of policies, vast amounts of private capital can be leveraged to develop the next generation of energy infrastructure. That means a smarter, more efficient power grid and more renewable power generation, whether it’s utility-scale or on rooftops. The government should provide clear market signals through measures such as energy efficiency and clean energy standards. And we should deploy a variety of incentives to help take new technologies to full commercial scale.
  • Stimulate R&D to find the next technological breakthroughs. We should support research and development that can lead to the next energy breakthroughs, including innovative programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which has spurred four dollars in private sector investment for every taxpayer dollar spent.
  • Remove barriers to innovation and empower energy consumers. Regulatory and market barriers have created huge inefficiencies in the way homes and businesses use energy. Consumers still lack basic information and tools for better managing their energy use. Utility regulation must be brought into the 21st century to promote investments in efficiency and renewables and reductions in peak energy demand. That includes enacting policies that give consumers access to and control over their own energy information.
We’ll be engaging on these issues over the next few months. In the meantime, we invite you to post comments and join the conversation!

Posted by Michael Terrell, Energy Policy Counsel

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