MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Google has announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems, and other potential breakthrough technologies. The firm is hiring engineers and energy experts to lead its research and development work, which will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology, and will also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas. In 2008, Google expects to spend tens of millions of dollars on research and development and related investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the company also anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects that generate positive returns.
“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers,” said Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of products. “We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”
Page added, “There has been tremendous work already on renewable energy. Technologies have been developed that can mature into industries capable of providing electricity cheaper than coal. Solar thermal technology, for example, provides a very plausible path to providing renewable energy cheaper than coal. We are also very interested in further developing other technologies that have potential to be cost-competitive and green. We are aware of several promising technologies, and believe there are many more out there.”
Page continued, “With talented technologists, great partners, and significant investments, we hope to rapidly push forward. 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.”
One gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco, noted the company.
“If we meet this goal,” said Page, “and large-scale renewable deployments are cheaper than coal, the world will have the option to meet a substantial portion of electricity needs from renewable sources and significantly reduce carbon emissions. We expect this would be a good business for us as well.”
Coal is the primary power source for many around the world, supplying 40 percent of the world’s electricity, said the company. Making electricity produced from renewable energy rather than coal would be a key part of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind,” added Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president of technology.
For more information on Google’s commitment to renewable energy, visit www.google.com/renewable-energy.
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