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Google Set to Invest in Alternative Energy Solutions

November 28th, 2007

alternative-energy-solution.jpgIn a press conference yesterday, Google executives announced plans for their company to make its most significant investment to date in alternative energy solutions such as solar, wind, and geothermal power.

They have put together a project called “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal”, with the goal of eventually producing electricity from sources such as solar and wind power at a rate that is cheaper than traditional coal-burning plants. If successful, Google’s initiative hopes to reduce the cost of solar power by 25 to 50 percent. More specifically, their overall goal is to produce one gigawatt (one billion watts) of electricity from alternative energy sources over the next few years, which would be enough power to supply a city approximately the size of San Francisco, California.

Google’s recent foray into the alternative energy field is being motivated by a combination of philanthropic desire and the search engine giant’s need to power its ever-growing array of computing centers. By moving from a consumer to a net producer of energy, Google could also realize substantial profits by selling surplus power to other entities or by selling licenses to use any new technologies that are developed as a result of their investment.

The company’s philanthropic division Google.org has partnered with two other firms, eSolar and Makani Power, which specialize in solar and wind power respectively. Overall, Google intends to invest at least $20 million into research and development of renewable energy technology and will hire 20-30 new employees as experts who will specialize in this area. According to co-founder Larry Page, they plan to invest “hundreds of millions” into other companies that specialize in renewable energy production and development. Given Google’s recent affinity for acquiring smaller companies that have developed relevant technology, this would seem to indicate that Google is hoping to become a serious player in the alternative energy market.

All of this is good news for those of us that have been looking for ways to make alternative energy solutions more practical and lower their cost so that they can become feasible for the majority of the public. One of the problems that we have had with solar power in particular is the relatively high cost of purchasing and installing enough panels to allow people to operate completely off the grid.

Some “early adopters” like New Mexico resident Marlene Brown have managed to move forward with it anyway, and are currently enjoying the benefits of eliminating their old electric bills. Hopefully the efforts of Google and other companies that invest in alternative energy solutions will speed up the process of making the technology more widely available, thus enabling us to achieve greater economic freedom while simultaneously improving the environment.


Update 4/23/09: I had to remove two links because both news sources (Associated Press and an Albuquerque newspaper) decided to remove their articles without my knowledge, causing my page to have invalid links and possibly messing up its search engine ranking. Grrrrrrr…..


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