Middle-Class Families Are Set To Receive Solar Panels With No Upfront Costs In The U.S.

Posted on December 8th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.

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The U.S. is the best country in the world if you want to go solar – but only if you’re rich enough. Due to the steep upfront costs of around $32,000 in cash, only those upper-income families can afford to install solar arrays. A novel initiative is, however, looking to change that. This new project hopes to help middle class communities see the sun in a different light.

Using money raised by U.S. government incentives and private investors to help fight global warming, the Alternative Energy Solar Project goal is to get solar panels on the roofs of those who cannot afford them. According to recent news, the plan is to use the rebates set aside for solar and the money raised by companies who want to lower the per ton of carbon dioxide emitted.

The cost for the installation to the families: nothing. The homeowner gets solar panels on their roof and a new reduced electric rate from the power produced by the solar panels. Alternative Energy Solar Project predicts that it could save individual families up to $2,400 a year, which they hope could then be spent on other essential bills.

Alternative Energy Solar Project has been made promotional manager over the Solar Affordable Verified Establishment  (S.A.V.E.) project, one of the country’s first dedicated solar repayment system for middle class families. The goal is to install solar arrays to over 32,000 homes by the end of next year. One of the benefits to this reduced electric rate program is the homeowner isn’t responsible for the installation costs, maintenance costs, or upkeep costs as they are not the owners of the panels. Additionally, if you are interested in owning the panels, there are programs where the homeowner can purchase the panels with no money out of pocket and own them outright.

The United States government has talked about how they can contribute through raising money to be able to provide more rebates. In the attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and move toward installing solar arrays. In total, the solar program has totted up to an impressive movement.

By ploughing at least 30% of the money from government incentives and using private investors to back the solar installation, the project aims to kill two birds with one stone – saving Middle-Class families money, while also making big fossil fuel polluting companies help to cut energy emissions in the country even further.

Anyone who is currently living in a neighborhood in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Utah and is classed as middle-class is qualified to apply to get the arrays installed. More states are being added monthly so apply to see if your state has joined the program. The sun sets on the initiative as the year ends in 2016, so if you’re living in one of these states, you might want to jump on board soon.

Alternative Energy Solar Project invites everyone to find out if they qualify by signing up for a free visit. To increase the ease of finding out if you’re in the middle-class and qualified they specifically created a new website solarvisit.com. They hope that the funding put towards this new site will be well spent, if they can get interested homeowners reaching out to them, they estimate that they’ll be able hit their goal of 320,000 homes by the end of the year 2017.

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Pertamina exploring development of tourism at geothermal sites

Posted on December 7th, 2016 in hydro by Spencer R.

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(www.thinkgeoenergy.com)

A lot of most geothermal spots in the world are taboo for development of power project, while in many spots of the world geothermal development actually can create opportunities to develop tourism.

In Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a good example … while nobody knows that it was created by an accident at the nearby geothermal power plant. But an actual geothermal power plant in the country has also become a tourist destination in itself.

So it is not surprising that Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE) in Indonesia is looking into utilising its geothermal activities beyond steam and power generation.

Local news now report, that Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry is coordinating with Pertamina to support the development of geothermal tourism in the operational areas of geothermal energy production.

An MoU was signed between the Ministry and PGE at a recent national tourism coordination meeting in Jakarta and there are big hopes that geothermal sites in the county could not only generate electricity but also become tourist destinations.

“Indonesia, with its volcanoes and the geothermal areas, can potentially be a tourist attraction. However, the geothermal resources are only known as a source of green energy here, where it actually has a direct use in the tourism sector,” President Director of PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy Irfan Zainuddin said.

Irfan said several countries have adopted the utilization of geothermal operation area into tourist attractions, namely Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, and a number of European countries.

The PGE has started a geothermal tourism trial project in a village in Kamojang, West Java. Similar program will also be applied to other PGE operational areas, such as in Lahendong, North Sulawesi; and in Ulubelu, Lampung.

He surely hopes the MoU would support the development of geothermal tourism in various regions in Indonesia.

PGE has 12 geothermal operational areas with a total capacity of 532 MW which is produced from four areas in Kamojang (West Java), Ulubelu (Lampung), Lahendong (North Sulawesi), and Sibayak (North Sumatera).

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Wind energy ready to boost Ohio’s economy

Posted on December 7th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.

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(www.aweablog.org)

Ohio has some of the country’s best wind resources, but right now the state it letting them lie dormant. That’s unfortunate because, if allowed to proceed, wind power growth in the Buckeye State is ready to create well-paying jobs while attracting millions of dollars into Ohio’s economy.

How did we get here?

In 2014, Ohio’s legislators temporarily froze the state’s renewable energy standard. That paused a policy with a strong track record of success across the U.S., where similar laws have created jobs, lowered energy bills and benefitted the environment.

Equally as disruptive, Ohio enacted the most stringent siting laws in the country, which essentially act as a wind moratorium. There was no public debate on this regulation.

Until these obstacles are fixed, Ohio will likely continue to see projects built in neighboring states, rather than within its borders.

However, a variety of supporters want to see the state’s clean energy policies repaired. Gov. John Kasich supports restarting Ohio’s RPS, while a dozen state chambers of commerce and economic development corporations signed a letter to the governor and legislature calling for an end to the freeze and prohibitive setbacks. They stated:

As chamber and economic development leaders, we have seen clean energy projects deliver significant economic benefits that are good for our businesses, schools, communities, and the economy of this great state.

To enable Ohio to take full advantage of this fast-growing sector that has already delivered more than $1.4 billion worth of investments, 9,000 jobs, and $4.6 million in payments to landowners and local governments, we believe there is a need for a clear and consistent roadmap on this issue.

That is why we encourage you to (1) reinstate the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and oppose any attempt to continue a “freeze” on these programs and (2) restore wind siting regulations that will allow companies to continue to develop wind projects that will benefit our local communities.

Let’s work together to help the Buckeye state continue to lead in attracting local investment and growing local employment—and not surrender that role to neighboring states.

Ohio’s citizens only stand to gain if the state resumes the path to a clean, affordable future powered by renewable energy.

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How Simple Hydrogen Could Solve Renewable Energy's Biggest Problem

Posted on December 7th, 2016 in enviornment by Spencer R.

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(www.popularmechanics.com)

 One of the biggest problems with renewable energy is the way supply and demand can fluctuate wildly. If the wind stops blowing or the sun goes down, renewable energy generation will grind to a halt even if people still need that electricity. Conversely, if electricity demand is low then all the energy produced by solar or wind is wasted.

The ideal solution would involve some way of storing excess electricity when it's not needed to use when production is low, but most solutions are too expensive or difficult to implement. One promising solution is hydrogen storage, and the University of California, Irvine just launched the first such project in the United States, paving the way for other universities or municipalities to do the same.

The project involves a technique called electrolysis, which uses electricity (in this case, electricity generated by the excess wind or solar power) to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen can be released into the atmosphere or used for other purposes, while the hydrogen is stored. The hydrogen can be compressed and injected into existing natural gas pipelines, where it is burned to generate electricity or heat. In this way, hydrogen acts as an efficient means of storing excess electricity generated by renewable sources.

The advantages of this system are that it uses existing infrastructure, so no new pipelines need to be installed. The process can also be easily scaled to meet changing needs.

The biggest downside of this technology is that injecting hydrogen into gas pipelines requires years of evaluation and testing, which limits the usefulness. Careful study is required for each individual implementation to ensure that the hydrogen can be injected safely.

 

With each successful hydrogen project, our knowledge of this technology increases and implementation becomes easier. Hopefully, the UCI project allows other areas of the country to start building their own hydrogen systems soon.

 

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How plants manage excess solar energy

Posted on December 6th, 2016 in solar by Spencer R.

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(www.phys.org)

Life on earth largely depends on the conversion of light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis by plants. However, absorption of excess sunlight can damage the complex machinery responsible for this process. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have discovered how Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a mobile single-cell alga, activates the protection of its photosynthetic machinery. Their study, published in the journal PNAS, indicates that the receptors (UVR8) that detect ultraviolet rays induce the activation of a safety valve that allows dissipation of excess energy as heat. A second protective role is thus attributed to these receptors, whose ability to induce the production of an anti-UV 'sunscreen' had already been shown by the Geneva team.

The energy of the sun is converted by plants into  through photosynthesis in order to produce sugars to feed themselves. The first step of this process, which takes place in cell compartments called chloroplasts, is the capture of photons of light by chlorophyll. Although light is essential for plants, sun in excess can damage their photosynthetic machinery, thereby affecting their growth and productivity. To protect themselves, plants activate a protection mechanism when light is too intense, which involves a series of proteins capable of converting the surplus of  into heat to be harmlessly dissipated.

Producing proteins that divert energy

"UV-B ultraviolet light is likely to cause the most damage to the photosynthetic machinery, and we wanted to know whether it is involved in activating protection mechanisms and, if so, how", say Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont and Roman Ulm, professors at the Department of Botany and Plant Biology of the UNIGE Faculty of Science. This work, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Universities of Grenoble and of California, was carried out in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a single-cell mobile alga used as a model organism.

The team of Roman Ulm had discovered in 2011 the existence of a UV-B receptor, called UVR8, whose activation allows plants to protect themselves against these UV and to develop their own molecular 'sunscreen". The researchers demonstrate now that this receptor activates a second . "When UVR8 perceives UV-B rays, it triggers a signal that induces, at the level of the cell nucleus, the production of proteins that will then be imported into the chloroplasts. Once integrated into the , they will help to divert , which will be dissipated as heat through molecular vibrations", explains Guillaume Allorent, first author of the article.

In terrestrial plants, the perception of UV-B by the UVR8 receptor is also important for the protection of the , but the underlying mechanism has not yet been elucidated. "It is crucial for agricultural productivity and the biotechnological exploitation of photosynthetic processes to better understand the mechanisms leading to photoprotection under sunlight and its UV-B rays", says Michel Goldschmidt-Clermont. A project the Genevan team intends to pursue.

 

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Enel unveils geo hydro hybrid

Posted on December 6th, 2016 in enviornment by Spencer R.

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(www.renews.biz)

Enel has started operating a power plant in Utah that combines hydro and geothermal technologies.

The company has added a so-called fully submersible downhole generator to a geothermal injection well at its 25MW Cove Fort geothermal plant, open since 2013.

It’s the first commercial facility to combine binary cycle geothermal power with hydro technology, Enel said.

The technology captures the energy of the water flowing back into the earth to generate additional electricity while improving the control of the flow of brine back into the ground.

It increased the plant’s output by 1008MWh between July and September, offsetting energy consumption by 8.8%.

Enel operates another hybrid plant in the US that combines geothermal and solar power.

"The operation of this technology, a world’s first, is a major milestone for the geothermal industry and a reinforcement of our commitment to innovation and energy efficiency," Enel Global Renewable Energies head Francesco Venturini said.

 

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War remnants cleared for German wind farm

Posted on December 6th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.

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(www.upi.com)

 The installation of the foundations for a wind farm in the Baltic Sea can begin now that the area is clear of the remnants of war, a German company said.

German energy company E.ON and Norwegian oil and gas firm Statoil are planning the construction of the Arkona wind farm in the German waters of the Baltic Sea. After four months, the companies said the area was cleared of explosive ordnance left over from the major wars of the 20th century.

"The construction site ... is now completely free of remains from the time of the Cold War as well as World Wars I and II," the German company said. "The installation of the foundations for the Arkona offshore wind farm in the German Baltic Sea can be securely started in 2017 as planned."

Hundreds of thousands of mines and other munitions were strewn along the sea bed in what is one of the most densely mined waters in the world. The consortium behind the twin Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to the German coast cleared the area of the remnants of war two years before construction began.

E.ON plans to invest at least $1.3 billion in developing the Arkona wind energy project and is the first company of its kind tapped to operate wind farms in the German waters of both the North and Baltic seas.

For Statoil, the company last year set a path toward investing in up to $200 million in renewable energy by buying into startups targeting opportunities in wind power, energy storage, smart grids and other energy-related technology.

The offshore Arkona project will be situated more than 20 miles off the German coast and generate enough power at peak capacity to meet the energy needs of 400,000 average households. Once completed, the wind farm will save more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, every year.

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Six unexpected sources of renewable energy

Posted on December 5th, 2016 in enviornment by Spencer R.

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(www.engadget.com)

When it comes to discussions about renewable energysolar and wind power often take center stage. To a lesser degree, other forms like geothermal energy and hydropower also get some attention. But many people may not be aware that there are many other sources of renewable energy currently in use around the world, all helping to counterbalance the enormous carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Small projects are turning to dirt and microbes, underground stores of liquid magma and even pedestrian footsteps to harvest energy that would otherwise be wasted. While none of these efforts alone can save the planet, the continued research and development to increase their efficacy may eventually help entire communities eschew fossil fuels without sacrificing much-needed electricity for light, safety, warmth and medical care.

Underground Liquid Magma

In Iceland, one of the world's most ambitious (and outlandish) renewable energy projects is now underway. The tiny northern nation is taking geothermal energy to a new level by tapping into liquid magma deep under the Earth's surface, where temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Celsius. The hot magma is thought to be capable of producing 10 times more electricity than typical geothermal sources, so the cost-benefit is in favor of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, which will source liquid magma from five kilometers below the surface using an enormous drill nicknamed "Thor."
Wind Energy From Trees
Sourcing wind energy from trees doesn't make much sense at first, until you learn how it works. The secret energy-generating power comes from the way trees sway in high winds. Earlier this year, researchers published the results of a study that showed how the vibrations of tree movement could be successfully converted into useable energy. The proof of concept was demonstrated on tiny tree-like L-shaped steel beams wrapped with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), a piezoelectric material. Although the amount of electricity produced was small -- around two volts -- the output would be magnified if a life-size piezoelectric array could be built to work with full-grown trees in natural forests.
Bacteria and Dirt Batteries
Taking a cue from energy-producing bacteria, scientists at Harvard University built a battery that's essentially powered by dirt. The creation of the microbial fuel cell (MFC) batteries is an energy storage breakthrough primed to aid residents of countries with absent or unstable power grids, such as regions of Africa where many people still live off the grid. MFC batteries are notoriously low in cost and can be constructed from local resources that look nothing like the batteries in your flashlight or cell phone. Instead, an MFC battery is built inside of a five-gallon bucket, which is filled with saltwater and holds a graphite-cloth anode, a chicken-wire cathode, mud, manure and a layer of sand to act as an ion barrier in the salty electrolyte solution.
Swedish Trash
As the world's human population continues to increase, so too does our waste production, creating a double-edged challenge to urban planners who are looking for renewable energy sources as well as efficient waste management processes. In Sweden, those two efforts are being combined and the nation is already successfully diverting 99 percent of its garbage from landfills and sending much of it to waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that turn it into electricity. Fully half of Sweden's annual 4.4 million tons of household waste goes through the WTE process, which burns waste and harvests energy from the resulting steam. Sweden's processes are so efficient that the nation actually imports 800,000 tons of trash from nearby countries to its 32 WTE plants, keeping even more garbage out of landfills.
Living Bricks
Could your house be an energy-generating machine? These Living Brickstake advantage of the metabolic power of microbes to convert sunlight, wastewater and air into clean energy. Similar to Harvard's microbial fuel cell (MFC) battery made from dirt, these living bricks would put natural processes to work in order to benefit human lives. The early prototypes generate small amounts of electricity, but it's enough to power an LED lamp or another small device. Someday, the inventors hope to develop the technology to a point where entire structures can be built from "bioreactor walls" that could which could theoretically be constructed to emit their own light.
Las Vegas Kinetic Streetlights
Millions of people walk the sidewalks of Las Vegas each year, and now some of those footsteps are generating clean renewable electricity. New York-based EnGoPLANET is harvesting energy typically lost to the ether by installing special streetlights powered by kinetic energy pads embedded in the walkways. These smart street lights are a world's first, proving that even small measures can help combat climate change by reducing dependence on fossil fuel forms of energy. The solar-kinetic streetlights are one element in the broader plan to make Las Vegas a net-zero emissions city powered completely by renewable energy.

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UChicago startup turns renewable energy into natural gas

Posted on December 5th, 2016 in enviornment by Spencer R.

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(www.phys.org)

One of the biggest challenges to wider adoption of wind and solar power is how to store the excess energy they often produce.

 developed at the University of Chicago, and now being commercialized by a University startup, is addressing the intermittent nature of these renewable sources. It uses a selectively evolved, unicellular microorganism that helps convert electricity into  gas. That gas can be stored, transported and used wherever natural gas is used, including for the generation of power on demand.

Laurens Mets, associate professor of molecular genetics and cell biology, began developing the technology in the late 1990s. From it, the startup Electrochaea was born with support from the University's technology transfer office, which is now part of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

"Direct scaling at this pace and scale is rare in the energy field," Mets said. "But we found this technology to be eminently scalable, so I'm very confident about its commercialization."

Electrochaea was selected for the 2014 Global Cleantech 100—a list of 100 private companies with the greatest potential to solve the clean energy crisis according to the market intelligence firm Cleantech Group. It has experienced a string of successes, including a large-scale demonstration facility that delivers methane to Denmark's pipeline grid and a commercial-scale plant announced in October to be built in Hungary.

"The disruptive energy storage technology developed by Dr. Mets in his lab has been validated by Electrochaea and is now being shown to scale in a commercially meaningful way," said Cristianne Frazier, senior project manager of technology commercialization and licensing at the Polsky Center.

Electricity into methane

At the center of the power-to-gas technology is a strain of methanogenic Archaea—a microorganism that Mets adapted for industrial use.

The process starts with surplus electricity that is coming from a wind farm or solar array, but isn't needed immediately. That power is used to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is combined with waste carbon dioxide from any of a variety of sources, such as a biogas or an industrial process, in a proprietary bioreactor in which the microorganisms efficiently catalyze conversion of the mixture into methane and water.

The resulting methane can be transported in existing pipelines or converted into compressed natural gas or liquid natural gas, making it available to generate electricity. The technology offers a large carrying capacity—more than competing bulk-energy storage systems, such as batteries, pumped hydroelectric and compressed air, according to Mets.

The technology enables increased use of variable electricity sources such as wind and solar by storing excess power, thus smoothing out the variability and making renewables more feasible and economically viable.

The carbon dioxide produced by burning the methane product of the process was waste from its original source and would have been released into the atmosphere in any case. The power-to-gas technology is thus carbon-neutral in its primary impact on the environment. It has the additional important impact of displacing net carbon emissions from burning of fossil fuels for energy generation with energy derived from renewable wind and solar sources.

The potential of the patented power-to-gas technology is significant, according to Seth Snyder, leader of the Water-Energy-Sustainability Initiative at the Argonne National Laboratory. "Methane could be the primary source for much of society's energy needs including electricity, heating, industrial processes and transportation," he said. "Therefore a robust way to create clean methane from renewable sources has the potential to transform our energy systems."

Mets continues his research at the University and aims to refine the novel technology. He hopes to adapt it to produce gasoline and jet fuel.

"What's so interesting is that Electrochaea is demonstrating that a very fundamental process in nature can be harnessed and adapted to address an immediate societal challenge," Snyder said. "If done correctly, the benefits could be significant in Europe and Asia."

Company develops technology

The links between the company and the University are numerous. The University recognized the importance of Met's discoveries early on and filed several families of patent applications that would be licensed to Electrochaea and become central to the startup's intellectual property portfolio.

"The technology commercialization and licensing team at the Polsky Center, Electrochaea and Dr. Mets have worked collaboratively on everything from company formation and technology development to Series A financing and patent prosecution, and I believe those relationships have helped foster a successful company," Frazier said.

Created in 2006, Electrochaea first validated the process in its laboratory in St. Louis. It began field testing Mets' power-to-gas technology in 2011. Three years later, Electrochaea started constructing a large-scale demonstration facility at a wastewater treatment plant outside Copenhagen, with the treatment plant providing the waste carbon dioxide used in the conversion process. Based on the success of that project, which is called BioCat and went live in June, Electrochaea is building a 10-megawatt plant in Hungary that will be the world's first commercial-scale power-to-gas plant.

"Electrochaea ramped up very quickly, with several steps, from the one-liter reactor in my lab at the University, through the one-megawatt BioCat project and now the 10-megawatt commercial plant in Hungary. The microbes have proven to be very robust," Mets said.

The Hungarian plant will be built by Electrochaea and Magyar Villamos Muvek, that country's largest energy provider. As with BioCat, the new plant will provide methane directly to the existing system of  pipelines.

Electrochaea plans to build an additional plant in Switzerland and envisions plants with up to 1,000 megawatts of capacity. Meanwhile, Pacific Gas and Electric Company is building a small demonstration plant at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado.

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Google Says It Will Run Entirely on Renewable Energy in 2017

Posted on December 5th, 2016 in enviornment by Spencer R.

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(www.nytimes.com)

Last year, Google consumed as much energy as the city of San Francisco. Next year, it said, all of that energy will come from wind farms and solar panels.

The online giant said on Tuesday that all of its data centers around the world will be entirely powered with renewable energy sources sometime next year.

This is not to say that Google computers will consume nothing but wind and solar power. Like almost any company, Google gets power from a power company, which operates an energy grid typically supplied by a number of sources, including hydroelectric dams, natural gas, coal and wind power.

What Google has done over the last decade, with relatively little fanfare, is participate in a number of large-scale deals with renewable producers, typically guaranteeing to buy the energy they produce with their wind turbines and solar cells. With those guarantees, wind companies can obtain bank financing to build more turbines.

The power created by the renewables is plugged into the utility grid, so that Google’s usage presents no net consumption of fossil fuels and the pool of electricity gets a relatively larger share of renewable sources.

“We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” said Joe Kava, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.”

Unlike carbon-based power, Mr. Kava said, wind supply prices do not fluctuate, enabling Google to plan better. In addition, the more renewable energy it buys, the cheaper those sources get. In some places, like Chile, Google said, renewables have at times become cheaper than fossil fuels.

Whether Google is the largest buyer of renewables would be difficult to verify, as many industries do not release data on how much energy they consume. There is no doubt, however, that Google’s large computer complexes, along with similar global operations by Amazon and Microsoft, are among the world’s fastest-growing new consumers of electricity.

Google hopes that success in working with large wind farms, like the 50,000-acre facility in Minco, Okla., which supplies Google’s large data center in Pryor, Okla., will spur development of the industry. NextEra Energy, which owns the wind farm, has about 115 wind farms in the United States and Canada.

About 25 percent of United States electricity goes to businesses, and companies like Google are now about 2 percentage points of that. Dominion Virginia Power, located in a state with perhaps the world’s largest concentration of data centers, last year had a demand increase from those customers of 9 percent, while overall demand was nearly flat, according to Dominion.

Google operates eight different businesses, including internet search engines, YouTube and Gmail, each of which has over 1 billion customers. They run on a global network of 13 large-scale data centers, each one a complex of many buildings containing hundreds of thousands of computers.

The 5.7 terawatt-hours of electricity Google consumed in 2015 “is equal to the output of two 500 megawatt coal plants,” said Jonathan Koomey, a lecturer in the school of earth, energy and environmental sciences at Stanford. That is enough for two 140,000-person towns. “For one company to be doing this is a very big deal. It means other companies of a similar scale will feel pressure to move.”

It moves the needle on costs to have a big consumer, Mr. Koomey added, since a larger market tends to allow for economies of scale and more innovation. “Every time you double production, you reduce the cost of solar by about 20 percent. Wind goes down 10 to 12 percent,” he said.

Facebook has entered into similar deals with wind producers. Last week, Amazon reiterated its long-term commitment to power its machines entirely with renewable energy, though for 2016 it expects to be above about 40 percent of its goal. It has announced five more solar projects.

Microsoft says it has been 100 percent carbon neutral since 2014, but much of this comes from the purchase of carbon offsets, which are investments in things like tree planting or renewables projects meant to compensate for the fossil fuels a company consumes. The company hopes to have half of its electric power supplied from wind, solar and hydroelectric sources by 2018. Its data centers currently use about 3.3 million megawatt-hours of power a year.

Google has long championed uses of alternative energy. In 2007, it patented an idea for a floating data center that would be powered by waves. It was never built. Less fanciful, but so far equally fruitless, have been schemes to source lots of geothermal power, or capture the high-velocity winds of the stratosphere with large kites. It also takes pride in the energy efficiency of its data centers.

Critics note that while Google might be adding wind and solar to the world’s power grid, overall it is still dependent on fossil fuels, since sun and wind power are intermittent, while demand for things like YouTube cat videos is continual.

“In my mind it’s a P.R. gimmick,” said Chris Warren, vice president of communications at the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank in Washington supported largely by donations from individuals and companies in the fossil fuel industry. “If they think they can actually support themselves with wind and solar panels, they should connect them directly to their data centers.”

Next year’s goal will be 95 percent accomplished with wind turbines around the world, Mr. Kava said, and Google’s support for the industry could keep prices dropping, particularly relative to things like coal. “We’re technology-agnostic, but we’re not price-agnostic,” he said.

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