Global Sources
EE Times-Asia
Stay in touch with EE Times Asia
EE Times-Asia > Power/Alternative Energy
Power/Alternative Energy??

Google details renewable energy initiative

Posted: 29 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:green initiative? renewable energy? solar power?

Google has launched a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal.

The RE<C initiative will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies. RE<C is hiring engineers and energy experts to lead its R&D work, which will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology, and will also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas.

Coal is the primary power source, supplying 40 percent of the world's electricity. The greenhouse gases it produces are one of our greatest environmental challenges. Making electricity produced from renewable energy cheaper than coal would be a key part of reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions.

R&D investment
In 2008, Google expects to spend on R&D and related investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the company also anticipates investing in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns.

"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," said Larry Page, Google co-founder and president of products. "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."

According to Page, the company targets to produce 1GW of renewable energy capacity, which power a city, but that costs less than coal. He added that should the search engine giant achieve its goal, the world will have the option to seek portions of electricity need from renewable sources and reduce carbon 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.

Speeding up the efforts
"Lots of groups are doing great work trying to produce inexpensive renewable energy. We want to add something that moves these efforts toward even cheaper technologies a bit more quickly," commented Dr. Larry Brilliant, executive director of, Google's philanthropic arm. "Usual investment criteria may not deliver the super low-cost, clean, renewable energy soon enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.'s hope is that by funding research on promising technologies, investing in promising new companies, and doing a lot of R&D ourselves, we may help spark a green electricity revolution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than coal."

Working with RE<C, will make strategic investments and grants that demonstrate a path toward producing energy at an unsubsidized cost below that of coal-fired power plants. Google will work with a variety of organizations in the renewable energy field, including companies, R&D laboratories, and universities. is working with solar thermal power specialist eSolar Inc. and high-altitude wind energy extraction developer Makani Power Inc.

Green vision
Google has been working hard on energy efficiency and making its business environmentally sustainable. The company has announced its intention to be carbon neutral for 2007, and is on track to meet that goal. It has also taken concrete steps to reduce its carbon footprint and accelerate improvements in green technology, including:

  • Developing cutting-edge energy efficiency technology to power and cool its data centers in the U.S. and around the world;

  • Generating electricity for its Mountain View campus from a 1.6mW corporate solar panel installation, one of the largest in the United States;

  • Accelerating development and adoption of plug-in vehicles through the RechargeIT initiative, including a $10 million request for investment proposals;

  • Joining with other industry leaders in 2007 to form the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a consortium that advocates the design and use of more energy-efficient computers and servers; and

  • Working on policies that encourage renewable energy development and deployment, such as a U.S. Renewable Energy Standard, through

  • Article Comments - Google details renewable energy init...
    *? You can enter [0] more charecters.
    *Verify code:


    Visit Asia Webinars to learn about the latest in technology and get practical design tips.

    Back to Top