Google to invest a fortune in renewables

Internet search engine Google is set to plough hundreds of millions of dollars into renewable energy projects in an effort to drive forward clean technology to make it 'cheaper than coal'.

The new initiative, named a predictably techie Re<C, will focus on solar thermal, wind energy and geothermal and other technologies as they emerge.

Google says it expects to spend ‘tens of millions’ of dollars on R&D next year alone, and will invest ‘hundreds of millions’ in renewable energy projects that are likely to turn a profit.

“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centres,” said Larry Page, Google co-founder.

“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.”

“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. 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.”

The project’s goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal.

“If we meet this goal,” said 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.”

Sam Bond

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