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The June Energy Update (2007)

By Steve Jones,

It's a little off-topic, but I've stacked up a couple editorials for vacation, and this is an easy one. At least for me since I am interested in alternative energy. Especially as the issues with the power supply in the US grow.
And I keep losing power here at the ranch

So by the time you read this, we've probably got a generator on order. A propane generator, automatically hooked up to the house to provide a few of our circuits with power when the grid dies. Water, heat, the fridge, and the office are the ones we've chosen. Yes, we're geeks, but we can always stoke up a DVD and pile the kids next to Khali on the floor (shown above).

Google turned on their solar panels at their headquarters, producing 30% of their energy, 1.6MW. That's pretty cool and I'd like to see how the projects at Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other places turn out. What's also cool is they're converting some Priuses to plug-in electrics and they'll charge them with solar power and make them available for employees to use during the day. If you're interested, you can track their production.

What I like is that Google has committed to producing 50MW of renewable energy a year  by 2012 as they build new facilities. The availability of biodiesel or ethanol might have been behind part of the decision to build in Iowa.

Meanwhile Microsoft is building a 5,000 car garage in Redmond. Talk about moving in other directions. And complaints on MSDN about their shuttle service, which is rumored to be the largest in the US. I thought Google had claimed this. More and more it seems Google seems to make interesting, cool choices, and Microsoft acts like IBM, big, slow, and stumbling. I hope Microsoft works on things that are effective, not that just sound good to the press.

I'm not sure what the best solution is for our future energy needs, though my suspicion is that we need to use a blend of technologies and solutions: fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, and more. I would like to see more and more renewables being used in spot locations to supplement other power.

Steve Jones

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