Yesterday, Google announced that it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in sources of renewable energy to help them power their vast server farms. The money, which will go to people like engineers and researchers looking into new forms of solar, geothermal and wind power, will both help the Googe save money in the long run as well as help the environment from damage due to Google's energy usage. Analysts didn't seem to get the first part of that statement, however, issuing comments like Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets' "The only positive byproduct of this project that would be anything other than environmental is that it might make Google managers and executives even prouder of the fact that they work there, and it may help retain key employees who think their goal is to do good in the world. But I'm really stretching." Let me break it down for you, you overpaid idiots.
Google is a company. A gigantic company. And yes, its motto is "Don't Be Evil," but there's no way it would do anything feel-good that wasn't going to save them or make them loads of money in the long run, and this is no different. When it comes to Google's priorities, it's makin' dollas first, everything else second.
So yes, while saving the environment is a popular bandwagon to jump on for companies looking for an image boost right now, Google stands to actually benefit from moving to renewable energy.
Google doesn't like talking about its server farms, but educated guesses put its number of servers at around 500,000. That is a serious number of servers, and that has got to use a serious amount of power. Even though they use custom servers with specially-made power supplies that are extra energy efficient, they've gotta be sucking up loads of juice. Using wild conjecture and assumptions, I'm going to guess that Google uses as much power as a small city to run its servers every day, which is a lot for one company to pay.
So when HP yesterday announced that it planned to save $800,000 next year by installing a one-megawatt solar electric power system at a plant in San Diego, and buying 80 gigawatt-hours of wind energy in Ireland, you've got to wonder why analysts still see Google as some naïve, idealistic child.
Think about it: if Google bank rolls research that develops a more efficient form of renewable energy, say, solar panels that are twice as efficient as current models, it benefits in three distinct ways. First, it saves money by powering its gigantic server farms cheaply using renewable energy. Second, it makes money by having the rights to the new technology that other energy-hungry companies will want. And third, it'll look like the hero of the beach for spending loads of money to help save the environment and actually making a difference.
It's smart business all around, despite what shortsighted analysts are saying. After all, the unspoken full version of Google's motto is "Make Tons of Cash, Just Don't Be Evil Doing It." [NY Times]