Google gets it: Making renewable energy cheaper than coal

Let’s face it. With any type of energy source, it all comes down to two important things. How much is available, and how much does it cost? If a renewable energy source can’t scale up to provide massive amounts of energy, and it isn’t cost competitive, then it just isn’t going to happen.

So what do you do?

You work to make renewable energy cheaper than the default choice for 40 percent of the world’s electricity — coal.

Google today 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. 

Working with RE<C, Google.org 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.

Read the full release from Google here.

Read the BBC story about Google here.