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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Google goes for Renewable Energy

Google is investing in renewable energy, Announces Google co-founder Larry Page.

Google aims to make electricity derived from the wind and sun and other renewable sources of energy cheaper than burning coal.

The Web search giant has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars toward the effort, including tens of millions in 2008.

Helge: Google is investing, not just talking about clean and green.

It didn't release specific figures, but it did set the goal of producing enough electricity to power San Francisco in years not decades. The initiative will focus first on

  1. solar thermal power,
  2. wind power and
  3. geothermal systems.

Depending on how fast Google spends its money, its investment could rival the federal government's investment in renewable energy.

Helge: Are they are playing big?

A Government Accountability Office report found that Department of Energy spending on research and development of biomass, wind and solar energy sources totaled just $65 million in 2006.

Helge: That's not a lot of money.

Department of Energy budget documents that make the GAO estimate seem far too low, with $1.16 billion being appropriated for energy efficiency and renewable energy in 2006, and $1.24 billion requested for 2008.

Helge: Those numbers sound more realistic.

The Google initiative will create jobs, though how many is unclear. It's the latest sign that renewable energy technology development can be a growing source of economic power in the coming years.

Helge: Moving the goal from strategy to practice means that Google has to get into the utilities business.

"If we meet this goal," said Google co-founder Larry 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."

Helge: This is a complex issue. Nevertheless, it's good that companies with big visibility and impact is making this move. There is a lot to do in this field. Nokia's former CEO Jorma Ollila did also move to the energy business. Let's see what new they can bring to this sector.



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