Google moves onto the smart grid – Going Green, or Gray?

Google has become the utility of the digital age, something we click on as much as we flick on a light switch or turn on the water tap. Now the search giant is literally getting into the utility business with the development of smart grid software that gives consumers real-time information on their electricity consumption.

Called the PowerMeter, the prototype online dashboard is designed to download data from smart meters and display current electricity use and show how much power your refrigerator, big-screen television and other appliances are using at any point in time.
Imagine being able to know exactly how much it costs to turn on your TV, on a second to second basis. Does this imply that Google is about to tap into the backbone of today’s economy, Power Generation – or is this just another stunt towards promoting a ‘greener’ Google?
Lets discuss the possible long term implications behind it. Its hard, for me, at least, to digest that its all just for the environment. But a good effort, nevertheless. Inferences appreciated, with rationale.
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  • i think it s a brilliant idea as i saw after my installations / photovoltaic or wind systems /grid tied that the consumers are much more aware or the awareness was getting into their mindset.
    If the system is equal to consumption they don t have to pay for electricity been used.
    So the people getting / power = money and don t using it wisely means
    i have to buy more panels or another windturbine or which happens most
    the lights are not on , if u don t need it anymore. SAVING
    People looking after their powerusage NOW
    not when the bill arrives next month.
    …..and once it s in their mind saving is getting a game , people are proud to save more and more.
    …using LED lighting/ outside lights are energy savers / solardriven pumpfeatures , no need for electrician to wire up your garden, no extra costs for driving the fountain, garage motors/ gates with 12V DC
    solar or windpowered again no wiring necessary…..
    ….again the starting point is the awareness / google is doing the right step
    showing you the consumption NOW!
    ….and it is already cheaper to go solar as to upgrade your infrastructure
    cables / circ. breaker / electr. work etc etc for your house.

  • Utilities already will give you a discount for installing a system that allows them to turn off your power when the grid gets overloaded. But that’s a hatchet, and utilities simply don’t have the processing power to use a scalpel.
    I think where Google is headed is toward a future where they have selective control over the various high-wattage devices in your home and they can automatically prioritize them (or allow you to prioritize them: which do you want to turn off, the plasma widescreen or your air conditioning?) at times of peak demand. You would get a break on your electric power without having to go totally dark at times, the utility would get better management of its demand, and Google would collect a few bucks as a middleman.
    If the healthier and more ethical parts of Enron were still around, they would probably be in partnership with Google on this.

  • Ranking websites in search results, monitoring website traffic, search trends, demographics information, search statistics and power grid management have more in common than you might think. Google’s Page Rank system and power grid management are quite similar. If an authority site links to another site, there is an implication that it’s demand has increased, so in turn, it’s Page Rank increases. Or if a website is getting abnormally high CTR off a search results page, it’s given higher priority. Websites are like houses, people are like electrical appliances, and their behavior is like appliance usage statistics. The PowerMeter is just an analytics solution that would communicate to a power grid management system.
    I just think Google has a lot of expertise handling networked data sets and knows how to put that data to good use.
    Just remember: website = house, visitors = electrical appliances, visitor behavior = appliance usage, a hyperlink = on/off switch, Google analytics = PowerMeter, Google Algorithm = Grid Management System, Matt Cutts’ Blog = notice that your rates will soon increase, getting banned from Google = power gets shut off. Google dance = rolling blackouts, Devaluation of ill-gotten links = blackouts, bad neighborhoods = the south side of Chicago…

  • Joshua Robertson

    Putting that information into the hands of every consumer is important. For many people it takes an energy auditor or consultant going into a home and calculating usage. Even then, the homeowner may forget about what they learned and slip back into bad practices.
    If you’ve ever had a car that displays your real time MPG, you know how obsessive you can get over driving efficiently. When I had one, I was constantly monitoring it. I would reset my trip meter weekly and try to beat the previous week’s record.
    I think the same thing would apply in homes. More importantly, I would hope that it could automate a custom plan of action for each home and/or connect the homeowner with a local energy professional. If that were the case, the data would need to be easily imported into popular energy auditing or modeling software. Ten bucks says Google will write their own.

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