Today’s press conference with Google was big on dreams but short on details. It had an all-encompassing feel but it was difficult to pin down. Google spends a lot of energy and cash running data centers. They have a social conscience. They also have a huge economic incentive to save money. Since they do have a more progressive outlook, they hope their solutions can save more than money – but save the planet. Ambitious isn’t it.
Google.org working with funds from Google.com stock are expanding their reach to develop renewable technology – specifically solar thermal, wind, and geothermal energy. They’ve already done a lot in this area and they want to not only continue but expand what they’ve done. The message really is: cheap, clean energy for the masses. They see this as a driving force to development and for helping solve problems of poverty and climate change.
The initiative is called RE<C and Google plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into it. Their goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. A concrete, measurable goal – and the timeframe isn’t set but it is aggressive: “We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades,” says Larry Page, Co-founder and President of Products at Google. He noted that one gigawatt of power is enough for a city the size of San Francisco.
What I like hearing is that they want to move from being energy consumers to energy producers and licensees. A goal that is admirable and one I’d love to achieve. They announced two companies that they are already partnering with – eSolar for solar power and Makani Power for wind power.
Though asked there really isn’t a concrete product or answers as to how exactly this will work, they revealed their intentions. Mostly they reviewed their accomplishments and set forth their vision, like Google does.
There were a few specifics: they will hire engineers and are looking for people to join the effort – perhaps 20-30 new employees in the next year or two.
Google is open to acquiring companies, partnerships, and other ways to expand this initiative. Also, they were clear that hydro energy (not enough capacity) and nuclear (Surgey said this should be privately funded) are not possibilities.
Here are a few of the jobs they’ve listed so far. What is phenomenal about this dream that has become a goal is that Google can actually accomplish. It’s a goal I’ll be watching with great interest.