Google to develop electricity from renewable energy

Google's goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal.

Google said Tuesday it will invest in developing ways to create electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than the electricity produced from coal.

Google Co-founder Larry Page said in 2008, the company plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on research and development and other related investments in renewable energy. Currently, coal supplies 40 percent of the world's electricity, according to Google.

"We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers," said Page in the statement. "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 said Google's 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," he said, adding that one gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco.

Page said that if Google meets that goal and large-scale renewable deployments are cheaper than coal, then the world could meet a large part of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources and significantly reduce carbon emissions. "We expect this would be a good business for us as well," he said.

Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, will invest in the initiative, known as RE.

Google.org is now working with two companies on renewable energy technologies: eSolar, a California-based company specializing in solar thermal power that replaces the fuel in a traditional power plant with heat produced from solar energy; and Makani Power, a California-based company developing technologies to harness the wind for energy.

Google said Tuesday's announcement is just the latest step in its commitment to a clean and green energy future.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
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