Google Spends Green to Go Green

Dennis Faas's picture

Representatives from Google recently revealed the company's 2008 initiative to research, fund, and supply energy resources to replace coal, a major culprit in global warming.

"We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers," said Google cofounder Larry Page. "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." (Source:

The Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C) program, on which the company expects to spend "tens of millions of dollars" in 2008 alone, will concentrate on developing solar thermal, wind power, and geothermal technologies. Google will bring on carefully selected energy specialists to lead the effort on advancing existing alternative technologies.

Specifically, the initiative is geared to producing a gigawatt of energy, enough to power a city the size of San Francisco, at a cost-effective rate. Providing power at less than two U.S. cents per kilowatt hour is the firm's benchmark for achieving this lofty goal.

"Solar is currently substantially more expensive than coal, depending on the type that you have; but we see a lot of evidence from all the people working hard on this that the costs can come down quite a bit," said Page. "It's an ambitious goal to get it cheaper than coal but it seems obtainable; and certainly if we can, it will have a huge impact." (Source

Evincing the organization's conviction are the 9,212 solar panels recently installed at the Googleplex. The amount of solar energy generated is estimated to produce enough energy to power 1,000 homes. In only 24 hours, the project produced 1,092 kilowatt hours. (Source:

The California company will funnel the support for the research and development laboratories through, the sister organization that focuses on philanthropic issues. To assist start-up businesses and other organizations, Google will make grants available for research funding. At this time, eSolar and Makani Power, both California start-ups, have been taken under the search giant's wing.

After revolutionizing the Internet, the innovative powerhouse has set its sights on alternative energy resources. The Google empire has stretched beyond the realm of IP addresses and domain names and unexpectedly into high-altitude winds and gigawatts. One can only wonder what's next.

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