I wrote a few years ago, inspired by Nick Carr’s book: “The big Switch”, about the inevitable fusion of energy generation and internet infrastructure – in fact, I went to go so far as to say that some day designs will be for Power/Info Platforms simply combining the two.
It wasn’t long after that, that we learned of Google’s plans to build datacenters at sea that used tidal/gravitatinal energy and be self-sustaining: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2008/09/06/google-planning-offshore-data-barges/. This was also about the time that PUE was coming on the scene and helping to focus the datacenter/infrastructure industry at large on energy efficiency gains.
Fast forward to present and we are now witnessing some even more amazing innovation efforts all emanating from the internet infrastructure evolution.
I have seen some very radical, yet realistic designs for alternative energies used by datacenters not only in pursuit of becoming a Zero Energy Building (see: http://www.nrel.gov/buildings/pdfs/39833.pdf) but also to help manage COGS of internet infrastructure operations with $/kW/hr being the highest OpEx cost – so it only makes sense for large infrastructure companies to push the envelope as historic energy companies don’t have the same incentives and are locked into status quo mentalities.
And along come Google again.
Google announces Google Energy LLC: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/print/article/2011/07/zeroing-in-on-zero-googles-foray-into-utility-land
Google announces carbon neutral since 2007: http://inhabitat.com/google-announces-that-its-been-carbon-neutral-since-2007/
So it makes perfect sense that as the world’s largest internet infrastructure company who’s very existence is predicated on power (lots of power) should begin to seek to innovate its entire ecosystem – and Google is not alone!!
There are some other very large infrastructure companies doing as much in this area as Google – and it is not a leap to say that some of the biggest strides forward in alternative energy shall come form the industry who is consuming the most of it – the IT industry!