Internet search giant Google has worked since 2007 to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. Google initiated carbon-neutral practices four years ago and developed a charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles on the main campus. The company also started Google.org as a philanthropic wing that could turn Google into a steward for environmental causes. This organization worked with McKinsey & Company to publish “The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation,” a report citing the need for massive investments in green energy.
“The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation” used three models to estimate energy consumption and emissions through 2030. The Business as Usual (BAU) situation assumes that government incentives expire while energy costs are adjusted upward due to demand. The Clean Policy scenario assesses the impact of increased local, state and federal incentives for clean energy development. Google.org also ran the $30/ton Carbon Price situation where utilities adopted a carbon tax of $30 per metric ton. Analysts at McKinsey & Company developed these scenarios along with subsections dealing with incentives for solar, electric and other alternative fuel adoption.
Analysts with Google.org estimated that significant green energy investments could create jobs, reduce emissions and expand the economy by 2030. This report determined that more than 1.1 million new jobs would be created at utilities, manufacturers and other participants in the clean energy industry. Consumers would reduce their oil consumption by more than 1.1 billion gallons per year while cutting emissions by at least 13%. The American economy could grow by more than $244 billion per year in terms of gross domestic product using the Clean Policy scenario. A typical American household would save at least $995 per year in savings using Clean Policy figures.
A significant portion of “The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation” discusses the overwhelming challenges to creating a clean energy economy. In a section entitled “Speed Matters,” the report indicates that a five-year lag time for green energy and vehicle development could mean $3.2 trillion and 1.4 million jobs in lost potential by 2050. Google.org also recognizes the allure of coal power when contrasted with the current state of alternative fuel research. “The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation” highlights the short-term benefits of natural gas on emissions levels but warns that natural gas could be a crutch that discourages clean energy development. The major conclusion of this report is that governments and private industry need to double down on clean energy storage, infrastructure and generation if only to create sustainable economic growth.