Internet-giant Google took the industry by surprise and announced through its Google.org arm that it will launch a new initiative known as RE< C, or renewable energy cheaper than coal. RE < C’s core objective is to build 1 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity at a cost cheaper than current coal power. 1 gigawatt of energy is enough to supply a city the size of San Francisco. With power being a major cost for Google, the company has focused much effort on planning and resolving energy requirement issues, including the installation of a 1.6 megawatt solar power system at its Mountain View headquarters, which provides 30% of the peak power necessary to fuel the buildings.
While Google has consistently declined to reveal their energy requirements, industry insiders say the availability of sufficient and cost effective power plays a major role in the location of the company’s massive data centre facilities.
“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centres,” said Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products.”We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”
As part of the RE< C initiative, Google is building up its internal expertise and is hiring a team of engineers in renewable energy technologies and green business strategy, as well as technical skills in a range of areas, including regulatory issues, land acquisition and management, construction, energy project development, mechanical and electrical engineering, thermodynamics and control systems, physics and chemicals and material science. Page continued, “With talented technologists, great partners and significant investments, we hope to rapidly push forward. Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades.” Google is working with two companies, eSolar and Makani Power Inc, in advancing their technologies. eSolar specializes in solar thermal power while Makani Power is developing high-altitude wind extraction technologies.