Google has hit the news with a very promising foray. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Google has earmarked hundreds of millions to spend on developing renewable energy:
Google Inc. says it will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop renewable energy as part of an ambitious plan to clean the environment and reduce the company’s own power bill.
The Mountain View company said Tuesday that it will open its deep pockets to foster innovation in solar, wind and geothermal technology in the hopes of making green energy cheaper than power produced by burning coal.
To kick off the initiative, Google said that it will invest tens of millions of dollars in renewable power, spread over research and development and related investments, in 2008.
“Solar isn’t currently cheaper than coal,” Google co-founder Larry Page said in a conference call. “That’s the point of this - to get it there.”
Google, which dubbed the project RE, has a philanthropic ‘arm, Google.org, which is driving this initiative on the behalf of Google Inc. But will they just do it for the good of the environment, or will they also try to profit?
Google also hopes to license any technology spawned from the effort to other companies so that they, too, can reduce their reliance on more polluting forms of energy while saving money. Co-founder Sergey Brin raised the possibility that the fees will be a new source of revenue for his company, but insisted that the goal isn’t to rake in big profit.
About 40 percent of the world’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. Providing an affordable, cleaner alternative would go a long way in reducing pollution, particularly in China, where coal plants are proliferating.
All in all, it’s hard to discredit a company the size of Google doing something altruistic.
The article also reminds us that Google’s founders have long been interested in energy efficiency and have played a big role in getting the company to go green. Last year the company said it would become carbon-neutral by the end of this year, meaning that it will be responsible for zero carbon emissions.