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Google Search Energy

November 24, 2014 by admin

In the UK with sunny days a distant memory and the feeling of natural light on our
faces on the top of many of our Christmas lists, its seems like our house and office
lights never seem to be off. However, for over 1.3bn people in the world, (1/5 of the
global population) because they have no electricity, imagining a single working light
bulb must seem a million miles away.

As with many things in life energy inequalities mark a major divide between the
haves and have nots. Did you know 20% of us use 60% of all manufactured energy?
I’m a firm believer that if many do a little, a few can do a lot – and as L’Oreal would
say here comes the science bit:

In 2011 computer users around the world each day completed around 4.7bn Google
searches. It’s so easy and convenient, but what’s the cost? Google themselves have
calculated an average search requires 0.0003KWhs of electricity (generating around
0.2g of CO2, enough energy to power a 60W bulb for around 17 seconds).
Individually its not even chicken feed. But imagine if, for one whole day, everyone
resisted the urge to Google.  Its near impossible to conceive of such a thing I know,
but the effects are breath taking:

–       0.003KWhs     becomes       1,415,100KWhs

–       0.2g                 becomes       928 tons

–       17 seconds    becomes       2,543 years

At an average cost of 14.5p per KWh, if electricity costs Google what it costs us, a
one day Google-fast represents an electricity bill saving of over £205,000. Just by
way of comparison following the ECO brokerage model (for CSCO), 928 tons of CO2
generates an additional £111,000 revenue.


Clearly a one day no-Google also represents a massive revenue implication for
Google itself and disruption for the 2.45bn internet users around the world. However,
if the Corporate Social Responsibility points scored and positive press that would
surround such an undertaking are not attractive benefits enough, what of the exciting
possibilities around alternative uses for the Google site for the day? Or the
cementing of Google as the number one search engine as humanity tries the
alternatives? Or the feeling of wellbeing brought about by being part of such a global
action? And, do we need to do so many searches anyway and is one day really so
much to ask?

While this is a pipedream and I have not explored the feasibility of implementation
(and indeed, there are probably thousands of similar actions that could do the same
thing). Wouldn’t it be great if one day off Google could somehow translate to paying:

  • for one light to be lit
  • for twelve hours a day
  • for one year
  • for 5,086 homes


  • pay for the installation of thousands of photovoltaic modules so off grid homes could generate their own energy?


DN: in researching this note I completed 26 Google searches. Equivalent to:

  • 442 seconds or 7.4 minutes of 60W bulb time
  • 5.2g of CO2