Google CEO Eric Schmidt offers energy
Sep 9 , 2008 - Matt Nauman - San Jose Mercury
News - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Calif. - Move over, Al Gore. Step aside,
T. Boone Pickens.
Google's Eric Schmidt has an energy plan
he says will solve many of America's problems.
The plan -- a mix of conservation, new sources
of generation and plug-in cars -- ties together a recent
string of Google investments in energy start-ups.
Global warming is a crisis, and, Schmidt noted
in a San Francisco speech Monday night, "A crisis is a terrible
thing to waste."
Schmidt, Google's chief executive officer
and chairman, began his talk at the Corporate EcoForum at
the Fairmont Hotel with a presentation featuring Google
Earth. Zooming in and out, and traveling (virtually) around
the globe, he spun a tale of rising temperatures and government
policies that are either speeding up or slowing down climate
Ultimately, though, no one is doing enough,
"There's a total failure of political leadership,
at least in the United States, if not in the world," he
His plan, he said, deals with a three-part
problem: an over-reliance on oil, which often comes from
foreign sources; a sluggish world economy desperately in
need of a new segment of jobs; and global warming.
What needs to be accomplished? Two things,
* Get all electricity from renewable sources
in 20 years.
* Eliminate half of the gasoline cars on U.S.
It'll cost a lot -- $2.7 trillion -- but it'll
generate a huge amount of savings, and create a lot of new
jobs, including 500,000 in the wind industry alone, he said.
Not surprisingly, since Google.org, the company's
philanthropic wing has invested in all of them, Schmidt
advocates wind, solar thermal and enhanced geothermal as
the best ways to replace fossil-fuel energy generation.
"If you do the math," Schmidt said, those technologies can
provide energy that's as reliable and nearly as cost-effective
as the coal and natural gas plants in use today.
He also suggested the information technology
community could help promote energy-efficiency improvements
as well as needed upgrades to the electrical grid. And companies
such as Google can improve the operation of its buildings
and lessen the energy used by its data centers. In fact,
the company recently gained patents for data centers that
will float on barges and use the motion of ocean waves to
The fight against global warming is a big
deal, Schmidt said, and he doesn't understand why more people
don't realize it.
"This is the largest opportunity that I could
possibly imagine," Schmidt said.
The Corporate EcoForum is a two-day conference
attended by top sustainability executives from more than
100 companies including General Motors, Oracle, Clorox,
Sony. Schmidt's speech will be posted on YouTube by Wednesday,
Google staffers said.