Google, HP Invest Big in Renewables

GreenBiz News provides some good news for green-necks. Good news is always welcome!

Link: GreenBiz News | Google, HP Invest Big in Renewables.

Hoping to spur a green power revolution, Google plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing renewable energy that costs less than conventional coal-fired electricity, the company announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, HP also said Tuesday it is delving deeper into renewables by building a solar power installation at a San Diego, Calif., facility and buying enough renewable energy in Ireland to satisfy 90 percent of its needs there.

Google’s R&D initiative, Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, will explore advanced renewable technologies, such as solar thermal, wind, enhanced geothermal, and other potent breakthroughs in its quest to produce one gigawatt – – enough to power a city the size of San Francisco — in "years, not decades," said Google Co-Founder Larry Page.

Cheap and plentiful coal is responsible for about 40 percent of world power generation and is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions.

Page told the Associated Press the company wants to bring down the cost of solar power by 25 percent to 50 percent. The company is now hiring engineers and energy experts to lead the research and development, first focusing on solar thermal technology and enhanced geothermal systems.

Google’s foundation, Google.org, will work with the initiative to spend "tens of millions of dollars" on research next year, with hundreds of millions more following for breakthrough renewable energy projects. Google’s foundation is reportedly sitting on a war chest of company stock totaling nearly $2 billion.

Already the foundation is working with eSolar Inc. of Pasadena, Calif., and Makani Power Inc. of Alameda, Calif., on promising technologies. eSolar specializes in solar thermal power which replaces the fuel in traditional power plants while Makani is developing high-altitude wind energy extraction technologies.

Google has already made forays into the renewable energy and alternative fuel arenas with the installation of a corporate 1.6 megawatt solar array on its Mountain View campus and a plug-in vehicle initiative designed to help bring the technologies to mass market.

Google.org launches alternative energy initiative RechargeIT.org

On June 18, Google.org is launched a new project to create a smarter energy future: cars that plug into an electric grid powered by solar energy. I am very hopeful that the mindpower concentrated in Silicon Valley can revolutionize energy production just like they have computers and networks.

Excerpts from the official Google Blog are below.

Link: Official Google Blog.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“plug-in hybrids”) can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg). As we demonstrated at today’s event, plug-in hybrids can sell power back to the electric grid when it’s needed most through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology

As you may know, one of Google.org’s core missions is to address climate change. In the U.S., transportation contributes about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions –- with more than 60 percent of those emissions coming from personal vehicles. By accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrids and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") technologies, this new project, RechargeIT.org, aims to reduce emissions and dependence on oil while promoting clean energy technologies and increasing consumer choice. Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system. From these efforts, we believe the environment will benefit — and consumers will have more choices to fuel their cars.

We’ve been working with Google engineers and Hymotion/A123Systems to build a small fleet of plug-in hybrids, adding an external plug and additional batteries to a regular hybrid car so that it runs on electricity with gasoline (or even better, biofuels) to extend the driving range for longer trips.

Since most Americans drive less than 35 miles per day, you easily could drive mostly on electricity with the gas tank as a "safety net." Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.

In the preliminary results from our test fleet, on average the plug-in hybrid gas mileage was 30+ mpg higher than that of the regular hybrids. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric, we also demonstrated the bidirectional flow of electricity through V2G technology, and have awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. (Here’s the full release.)

As for Google Inc., today the solar panel installation we announced last October is now producing clean, renewable electricity for our Mountain View, CA headquarters.

The system will offset peak electricity consumption at the solar powered offices and the newly constructed solar carports have charging stations for the plug-in hybrids. At 1.6 megawatts — with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes — the Google project is the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S. to date, and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. To see how much electricity these panels are producing right now, visit our new performance monitoring site.

To learn more about the initiative, we encourage you to explore the rest of RechargeIT.org.