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Google to develop electricity from renewable energy

Company says it will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal

By Linda Rosencrance
November 27, 2007 12:00 PM ET

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

Google said it will hire engineers and energy experts to head up the research-and-development work for the initiative, known as RE In a teleconference today, Google co-founder Larry Page said that in 2008, the company plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on R&D and other related investments in renewable energy. Currently, coal supplies 40% 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 1 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 1 gigawatt is the amount needed to power a city the size of San Francisco continuously.

Page said that if Google achieves that goal and renewable energy sources prove to be able to produce electricity more cheaply than coal can -- and can do so on a large scale, then the world could 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 RE Google.org is now working with two companies on renewable energy technologies: eSolar Inc., a Pasadena, Calif.-based firm that specializes in solar thermal power that replaces the fuel in a traditional power plant with heat produced from solar energy; and Makani Power Inc., an Alameda, Calif.-based company that develops technologies to harness the wind for energy.

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

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