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Google seeks to become energy trader

Renewable power for own private internet

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As it continues to expand its own private internet, Google has asked US energy regulators for the right to buy and sell power on the wholesale market - just as a utility would.

Last month, the search giant cum world power created a subsidiary dubbed Google Energy, and the outfit has now applied (PDF) with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a power marketer, as reported by The New York Times.

Google has yet to respond to our request for comment. But according to a company spokeswoman quoted by The Times, the company has no plans to become the next Enron. She says Google merely wants the freedom to purchase renewable energy for its worldwide fleet of data centers.

“We want to have the ability to procure renewable energy to offset power usage of our operations,” she said, adding that this would help Google become "carbon neutral," a goal it set for itself in 2007. In other words, Mountain View wants to buy stuff like solar and wind power directly from the source at bulk rates.

Google operates roughly 36 data centers across the globe, part of a vast private network that accounts for roughly 6 per cent of the traffic on the interwebs.

According to a presentation detailing a recent update to its data center infrastructure, Google intends to expand its network to between one million and 10 million servers, encompassing 10 trillion directories and a quintillion bytes of storage. And all this would be spread across "100s to 1000s" of locations around the world.

It's not unusual for a company that consumes vast amounts of power to become an energy trader. Currently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lists about 1,500 companies who have subsidiaries approved for such trading, including big-name retailers like WalMart.

Google has asked the commission to approve its application by February 23. ®

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