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Google plans big renewable energy push

     
6:37 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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ABC News: Google plans big renewable energy push [abcnews.go.com]

Google Inc said on Tuesday the Web services and online advertising group plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years to promote a new push to encourage cheap renewable electricity.

The project, known as Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, is hiring engineers and targeted investment financing at advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other new technologies, Google said.

11:08 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like a lot better approach than the standard feel good policy of buying symbolic RECs that other companies use.
11:32 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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search engine
radio ads
magazine ads
cell phones
social network
renewal energy

what's next: Bank, water desalination, manned flights to Mars...?

12:27 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Renewable energy is a very important subject these days...

Important enough to artificially inflate the stock price.

12:29 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Bank

With as much money as those characters are worth, I don't doubt it.

1:04 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Not a trip to Mars, a ladder to the moon.

The approach is one of "throw it at a wall and see what sticks."

1:35 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Considering how much energy their data centers draw, I'm not a bit surprised they made this move. If they can offset their energy costs in the long run, it's a win-win for them.
3:01 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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How about giant hamster wheels powered by Chinese dissidents?
4:28 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Going to be a uphill battle, coal is by far the cheapest energy source and the most plentiful found in the US. The US is the Saudi Arabia of the world where coal is concerned. At current power demands estimates are the US can power itself for the next century and beyond. There's a fuel comparison chart here:

[eia.doe.gov...]

Note that the price indicated for coal is the cost of anthracite coal which is the type I deal in, this is used primarily for home heating because it's the cleanest burning i.e. nearly 100% carbon which provides a "smokelss" emission. If your neighbor was burning anthracite to heat their house you would never know it. It's also out of date and is roughly about $140-$150 per ton delivered in bulk locally.

The highest grades of Bituminous which is used in power plants is roughly trading at $55 per ton.

They have initiatives for clean coal power: [fossil.energy.gov...]

With such plants the pollution problem becomes a moot point. The trouble with any of the renewable energy resources is they are very expensive. Take for example geo-thermal heating. You can heat a house for less than even coal but the installation costs are astronomical.

6:11 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm still waiting for my Lotus where I can dump a bag of trash in the trunk, and travel through time at speeds in excess of warp 3! Maybe Google will make it happen! ;)
8:03 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Probably Google Board Member John Doeer is pushing the initiative.

Watch this interview with John Battelle,

[battellemedia.com...]

12:44 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I also think its a good idea, but I really dont like that one company is getting so much "power" also I have see one of the owner of google wife is having/building gene registre project, its getting a little scary.
2:50 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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great idea and I know Doerr got involved in this (with Gore too) but I think it is also a matter of focus. Companies routinely sell certain brands or businesses to focus on their core lines.

To say that this will not take any exec time is a lie...and we all know it. Now "being green" is cool so they will enjoy this.

3:22 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Google has well over $200 billion in assets, they have $10s of billion in cash, they're a market leader (to say the least) and they have talent and intelligence oozing out of their ears.

Tell me again why they should stay within the confines of the search market.

Google is a public company with tons of capital to burn on prospects and emerging markets. Silicon Valley is busting at the seams with companies who see the potential income of renewable "green" energy. It seems pretty logical that the largest fish in the Valley should give it a go as well.

Google uses their brains and money to enter new markets and make money, usually with outstanding results. Why would any investor be opposed to this?

3:37 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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...coal is by far the cheapest energy source...

[celsias.com...]

4:09 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Need to print those tin-foil hats with Nanosolar's special solar cells now! B^>

Rgds

Damon

11:00 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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http://www.celsias.com/2007/11/23/nanosolars-breakthrough-technology-solar-now-cheaper-than-coal/

Ok I stand corrected, coal is the cheapest proven technology. Those solar cells still have to stand the test of time. Will they be able to hold up for 25 years?

I'm assuming that is lifespan they expect based on the 25 year warranty, I'm also assuming that is what they are basing the cost factor on. Renewable energy will get its day, I foresee massive hydro/wind/solar plants in the worlds oceans. I just don't think it's here yet, any of these alternatives will require serious investment to make a difference. A lot more than what Google can provide and until you get many investors onboard these technologies will languish.

6:51 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Leaving the coal debate aside, back to the original post...

I'm thinking there's a connection somewhere between this and the plan to build a massive data center in the Council Bluffs, Iowa area...

Lots of cheap, open land; few neighbors to grouse about large solar or wind arrays, a community that might welcome new investment without zoning hassles, perhaps?

OK, don't flame, I know it could be a crazy thought.

9:45 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I think it's definitely part of the deal.

If G can get the RE thing working for them too, then they can be much better neighbours with many more places that data centres can be placed, not just in big expensive urban centres or near power-generation facilities such as hydropower dams.

Rgds

Damon

3:14 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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A massive PR stunt designed to ensure that Google Inc remain the darlings of the media and more importantly, that the general public remain blissfully unaware of the real Google.

Or am I being too cynical ;-)

7:57 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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At least a little, IMHO.

However, there's no denying that it *is* a PR stunt, whether out of the purest of snow-white breeze-driven motives or not.

Rgds

Damon

10:00 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Of course there's a PR factor. Why wouldn't there? Why would you keep quiet about such a program?
10:57 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Google has no idea what they are doing beside Search, Adwords and Adsense. The rest of this is just a way of saying "we're doing something..."
11:04 pm on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Google has no idea what they are doing beside Search, Adwords and Adsense. The rest of this is just a way of saying "we're doing something..."

I agree with that. The problem is that most investors (who have a lot of money, but very vague idea about how the Internet business works) are wishful-thinkers and hope this "something" will end up being a perpetuum-mobile. Ain't going to happen though.

It reminds me the question: "How did dot-com bust started?"

 

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