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November 28th, 2007
Google’s Goal: Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal

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PR – Google announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from
renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from
coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE<C, will focus initially
on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal
systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.  RE<C is hiring
engineers and energy experts to lead its research and development work, which
will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology, and will
also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas. In 2008,
Google expects to spend tens of millions on research and development and related
investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the
company also anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough
renewable energy projects which generate positive returns. 

"We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive
facilities by building efficient data centers," said Larry Page, Google
Co-founder and President of Products. "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."

Page added, "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."

Page continued, "With talented technologists, great partners and significant
investments, we hope to rapidly push forward. Our goal is to produce one gigawatt
of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal.  We are optimistic
this can be done in years, not decades." (One gigawatt can power a
city the size of San Francisco.) 

"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."

Coal is the primary power source for many around the world, supplying 40% of
the world’s electricity.  The greenhouse gases it produces are one of our
greatest environmental challenges. Making electricity produced from renewable
energy cheaper than coal would be a key part of reducing global greenhouse-gas

"Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also
vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable
energy of any kind," added Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder and President
of Technology.

Strategic Investments and Grants

"Lots of groups are doing great work trying to produce inexpensive renewable
energy. We want to add something that moves these efforts toward even cheaper
technologies a bit more quickly. Usual investment criteria may not deliver
the super low-cost, clean, renewable energy soon enough to avoid the worst effects
of climate change," said Dr. Larry Brilliant, Executive Director of,
Google’s philanthropic arm, "’s hope is that by funding research
on promising technologies, investing in promising new companies, and doing a
lot of R&D ourselves, we may help spark a green electricity revolution that
will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than coal."

Working with RE<C, will make strategic investments and grants that
demonstrate a path toward producing energy at an unsubsidized cost below that
of coal-fired power plants. Google will work with a variety of organizations
in the renewable energy field, including companies, R&D laboratories, and
universities. For example, is working with two companies that have
promising scalable energy technologies: 

  • eSolar Inc., a Pasadena, CA-based company specializing
    in solar thermal power which replaces the fuel in a traditional power plant
    with heat produced from solar energy. eSolar’s technology has great
    potential to produce utility-scale power cheaper than coal. For more information,
    please visit
  • Makani Power Inc., an Alameda, CA-based company developing
    high-altitude wind energy extraction technologies aimed at harnessing the
    most powerful wind resources. High-altitude wind energy has the potential
    to satisfy a significant portion of current global electricity needs. For
    more information on Makani Power, please visit

Ongoing Commitments

Today’s announcement represents just the latest steps in Google’s commitment
to a clean and green energy future.  

Google has been working hard on energy efficiency and making its business environmentally
sustainable.  Last spring the company announced its intention to be carbon
neutral for 2007, and is on track to meet that goal. To this end, the company
has taken concrete steps to reduce its carbon footprint and accelerate improvements
in green technology, including:

  • Developing cutting-edge energy efficiency technology to power and cool
    its data centers in the U.S. and around the world. 
  • Generating electricity for its Mountain View campus from a 1.6 Megawatt
    corporate solar panel installation, one of the largest in the U.S.
  • Accelerating development and adoption of plug-in vehicles through the RechargeIT
    initiative, including a $10 million request for investment proposals (
  • Joining with other industry leaders in 2007 to form the Climate Savers
    Computing Initiative, a consortium that advocates the design and use of more
    energy-efficient computers and servers (  
  • Working on policies that encourage renewable energy development and
    deployment, such as a U.S. Renewable Energy Standard, through

For more information on Google’s commitment to a clean energy future, see

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