New alliance from Google, GE will pursue clean energy with zeal

Google already announced that it wants the U.S. to use 100 percent alternative energy by 2030.  Now it has found a powerful ally to aid it in its quest.  Tech giant General Electric, one of America's most profitable companies, has announced an alliance with Google for creating a "smart" U.S. electric power grid and clean energy.

Half the new alliance's efforts will be dedicated to developing and investing in green energy technologies.  The other half will be in lobbying US political leaders to support alternative energy.

In a press release, the pair state:

Both companies believe that our economic, environmental and security challenges require that we use electricity more efficiently, generate it from cleaner sources, and electrify our transportation fleet.  This 21st century electricity system must combine advanced energy technology -- a major GE focus -- and cutting edge information technology -- a major Google focus.

Google has, since formally going public with the effort last year, been promoting its "renewable energy cheaper than coal" drive.  For the last two years, it dedicated a team of its engineers to developing alternative energy technologies in the effort to make alternative power sources cheaper than fossil fuels.

However, without an overhauled grid, the "road system" by which electricity travels in our country, the efforts will be for naught, Google acknowledges.  They propose that the grid be redesigned with green tech in mind. director of climate change and energy initiatives Dan Reicher says the current one way system is "dumb" and proposes a more functional design. 

Many agree that alternative energy or not, the grid is in danger of collapsing due to negligent maintenance and lack of upgrades from the power utilities.  This, they argue, is evidenced by the blackouts and brownouts that have hit parts of the nation over the past few years.  Part of the blame, according to Google, falls on the federal government and regulators for failing to promote and improve work on the grid.

Google's Reicher states, "How do you move policy in Washington to get a lot more transmission lines built so you can take advantage of wind in the Dakotas or sun in the Mojave Desert and move the electricity to cities far away?  Come January, with a new administration and new Congress, we can hopefully launch a major push to break down some of these barriers."

A smarter grid could allow electric cars, such as the new Chevy Volt, to act as battery storage when not in use, helping to level power demand.  It could also allow consumers to sell wind and solar power back to the grid.  Mr. Reicher describes, "The transmission system is about the last mile, to people's homes, and making technology available so people can better control their own energy."

Google hopes to provide some of the software to help control the complex mechanics of this two way interchange, with storage.  By teaming with GE it can offer software knowledge to the leader in power technology.

Google already has its own fleet of electric cars, and the new alliance vows to continue to promote and develop this technology.  Among the other initial efforts of the group will be to use GE's acumen and experience to effectively map geothermal resources.  Geothermal is one form of power Google believes to be very promising.

GE and Google say that they're not aiming to create a massive coalition, but would not be opposed to a couple other corporate superpowers joining them.

Google also made headlines when it announced recently that it was planning on possibly moving its data centers to sea on barges, for free tidal power and no property taxes.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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