Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google's New Goal: Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal

The Washington Post reports on Google's new renewable energy R&D efforts:
Google Inc (GOOG.O) said on Tuesday it plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help drive down the cost of electricity made from renewable energy below the price of coal.

The project, dubbed Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, is hiring dozens of engineers and targeting investment financing at advanced solar thermal power, wind power, enhanced geothermal systems and other new technologies, Google said.

The Web services and online advertising group will be a big customer for the project, running computers and networks on the electricity and selling back what's left to the power grid.

"Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades," Larry Page, Google's co-founder and president of products, said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal has more on Google's renewable electricity initiative:
The company is primarily looking at solar, geothermal and wind technologies that show potential for making electricity so cheaply they can displace fossil-fuel plants. "We're optimistic we can do this in years, not decades," Mr. Page said, adding that even though lots of venture capital is flowing to renewable-energy start-ups and the government funds research through its national energy labs, "we don't see a lot of investment in very aggressive, low-cost things" that could reshape the coal-heavy generation mix and reduce power-industry emissions.

One firm Google already is supporting is Makani Power, a company based in Alameda, Calif., working on high-altitude, wind-power systems. Mr. Page said he believes most of Google's investments will be in technologies capable of producing grid-scale quantities of electricity that would use existing infrastructure like the high-voltage transmission system.

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