By now we all know that Google is no longer (if it ever was) a search-engine related company. Obviously it is much more than that and is trying to be part of all aspects of our lives. We have enjoyed, for a while now, services like web search engine, email, word processor, spreadsheet, library, news provider, etc. Back in November 2008 I wrote about how Google is using the information gathered to provide innovation services such as real-time information about the spread of Flu infections. As we know Google doesn’t stop and continues innovating on all kinds of fronts. Here is another example.

Back in the Fall of 2008, Google teamed up with General Electric (GE) to assist building what they called the Smart Grid. This will provide two-way communications, using the power grid, between customers and suppliers. This may not sound like anything new. In fact, though, the interesting thing about this is the new approach.

Google’s approach goes one step further by trying to take advantage of the flows of information that can occur. For example, utilities can better monitor electrical usage while users can obtain more accurate and faster (even real-time) information about their own electrical usage.

What lies behind all of this is even bigger and is an attempt, by both Google and GE, to push for policy efforts that facilitate and enable the availability of renewable energy generation in the United States. With a SmartGrid like the one proposed, we should be able to manage better our home energy use in order to reduce costs. Later on, and if the whole green technology movement catches up, we should be able to power our electrical cars when energy costs are lowest based on real-time consumption data (see RechargeIT Google initiative) or even sell to the grid the excess power we generate at home, for example through solar panels, wind, etc.

Some skeptics think that this will never happen or is many years away. Despite their arguments, I believe that when companies such as Google and GE make this kind of agreement (and back them up with resources in terms of minds and money) we should expect some results. Let’s see what happens!

Published at Infonomia the week of February 23, 2009.