Web giant Google said Tuesday that the United States stands to lose up to $3.2 trillion in potential gross domestic product (GDP) growth if it further delays policies that encourage renewable energy technology.


In an economic study published on the company's official blog, Google researchers assumed several key breakthroughs would be made in solar, wind and biomass energy, then drew their models outwards through 2050.

Comparing their results to models based on "business as usual" in the carbon-generating energy economy, Google found that delaying public policies to encourage green tech by just four more years could result in the loss of up to $3.2 trillion in GDP and the failure to realize as many as 1.4 million new jobs.

The study also suggested that clean energy policies being considered today would also reduce average household energy costs by over $942 a year, cut back on U.S. oil consumption by 1.1 billion barrels a year and shave off at least 13 percent of the nation's total carbon emissions by 2030.

By 2050, Google projects a net gain of 3.9 million jobs and a total carbon output reduction of 55 percent.

The key to achieving those results is rapid improvements in current technology and public policies that encourage growth. For instance, they showed that compressed natural gas could remain a dominant market force if the development of electric vehicle batteries isn't ramped up very quickly. They also show how difficult it will be for any single electricity source to compete with coal power in terms of economics, with coal continuing to offer more power for less dollars for the foreseeable future.

While the study's findings seem promising indeed, it is absolutely in-line with Google's agenda to promote renewable energy technologies. The company has hired several lobbying firms to bend lawmakers' ears on the matter, spending over $1.2 million to do so in the first quarter of 2011 alone.

Just by the company's lobbying efforts, it becomes clear that the web giant plans to be a big part in the rise of green technology. It has already spent over $780 million investing in clean tech firms in an effort to find energy sources cheaper than coal.

The full study was available online (PDF).

Image courtesy of Robert Scoble