Google pours money into renewable energy

Capacity to power San Fran will happen in "years, not decades"…

Capacity to power San Fran will happen in "years, not decades"…

Google is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy with the aim of producing it more cheaply than coal-generated electricity.

The Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal project will see the creation of an energy R&D group to support "breakthrough technologies".

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Engineers and energy experts are being drafted in to lead the R&D work which will start in earnest next year, initially focusing on solar thermal power, wind power and geothermal systems.

Google will also make strategic investments in the renewable energy arena with companies, R&D labs and universities.

On a posting on the company's official blog, Google co-founder Larry Page said the company's goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity - enough to power a city the size of San Francisco.

He wrote: "We are optimistic that this can be done within years, not decades."

Page added: "By combining talented technologists, great partners and large investments, we have an opportunity to quickly push this technology forward."

Fellow Google founder, Sergey Brin, said cheap renewable energy is critical not just for the environment but also for economic development in areas where affordable energy is in short supply.

Dr Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, the search giant's charitable organisation, said the company hopes its own R&D work, combined with its funding of research and companies, will help spark a "green electricity revolution".

Google is on track to make its business carbon neutral in 2007 by, among other thing, reducing the power and cooling requirements of its data centres and installing a 1.6 megawatt solar panel system at its Mountain View HQ.