Despite rampant commercial success, having a stock price of
over 700 dollars, the wildly successful top internet search engine,
possibly the top free email
service, a new cell phone
OS, and a constant stream
of new services
that equate to internet market domination, Google has never seemed quite as
evil as some big
companies. The company has always preached a strongly altruistic
philosophy. Its goal is to "to organize the world's information and
make it universally accessible and useful" and its often used slogan is
"Don't be evil".
Now Google is looking to not just avoid being evil, but possibly do something
really helpful for mankind. Google has launched
an initiative called RE<C, which stands for Renewable Energy Cheaper
than Coal. The plan looks to eliminate worldwide reliance on dwindling
fossil fuel supplies by developing renewable resource technologies to the point
where they are cheaper than traditional fossil fuel power.
Google is looking to give consumers and businesses a good reason to ditch oil
and coal for renewable energy.
Google has a personal interest in energy as its data centers use a lot of it and
millions of users spend countless watts of computer power, finding sites via
Google's search engine.
Its initial investment efforts will be in advanced solar thermal power, wind
power technologies, and enhanced geothermal systems. Google notes,
though, that it will also actively pursue any other breakthrough sources of
Google has not disclosed exactly how much it will invest into the new venture,
but it has announced its first project -- to build 1 gigawatt of renewable
energy capacity (enough power to power San Francisco) -- is cheaper than the
generation costs from coal. Google is looking to hire top engineers and
researchers to aid in this project. Much of the funding for the
initiative will go to this Google driven project.
Additional funding for the initiative will be channeled in the form of
strategic grants and investments into organizations and individuals who are
developing cheap renewable power. Companies, R&D laboratories,
and universities all have a shot at the money.
So far Google has targeted two firms. The first is eSolar
Inc. (PDF) who specializes in solar-thermal power. This company is
highly regarded by Google as breaking new ground in providing utility scale,
cheap solar power.
The second sponsored company is Makani
Power Inc. (PDF). This company has the (literally) lofty goal of
collecting high altitude wind energy. According to the company, if only a
fraction of this energy, high altitude air streams driven by solar radiation,
could be captured it would easily provide for all the worlds current power
Google is joining the push for carbon neutrality, which aside from lower carbon
emissions, also lowers a broad array of other industrial pollution by lowering
Google has stated that it is extremely committed to a green vision of the
These moves follow other do-good projects from Google, seeking to advance
mankind, including a trans-Pacific
cable-line and a 30m USD moon
challenge. This initiative is by far Google's largest and most
ambitious project of this kind, though. It should be interesting to see
how the power of this giant can affect the energy industry. Google is not
the only brainy organization looking to help solve energy woes, though -- The
University of Oxford just released a significant plan on how to both cut energy usage
and save money.