Google aims for Green energy investments in Europe

Google is looking to expand into the energy smart meters business and to invest in renewable generation projects in Europe, the head of green business operations at the internet giant said on Tuesday.

The aim of smart metering technology is to let customers view real-time electricity and gas consumption and allow them to optimize usage and therefore cut energy waste and save money by using energy during low demand periods.


Through, the philanthropic arm of the internet firm, the company has developed a free web-based application called PowerMeter which collects data from smart meters and displays the data on a customizable customer webpage.


"We're looking at getting more utility partners and more device partners. We're always looking for a broader reach and we're talking to utilities in all the major markets," Ben Kott told Reuters on the sidelines at a news briefing in London.


In partnership with British independent energy retailer, First Utility, Google is providing an opt-in service to the utility's 30,000 smart meter customers.


"I think in the UK, people are relatively open to this, not only focusing on cost but also efficiency. It is also a highly liberal energy market, so there are opportunities for companies like First Utility who wouldn't be able to operate in other markets," Kott said.


He said there were no plans to charge for the PowerMeter web application.


"There's no money going backwards and forwards," First Utility chief executive Mark Daeche said.


Google is also looking at investing in renewable power generation projects in Europe, following a $38.8 million U.S. wind farm investment in North Dakota in early May.


"We're newcomers in the field and we're quite aware of that. We're not yet ready for very risky investments, but it is something that could become very interesting in a few years. Now we're looking more at onshore wind and solar project," Kott said.