Google steps back from renewable energy initiative

The initiative, called Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, or (RE

Nov 23rd, 2011

Mountain View, Calif., November 23, 2011 — Internet giant Google, Inc. announced the cancelation of several projects it has taken on in the past few years, including an initiative to make solar power cost competitive with fossil fuels.

The initiative, called Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, or (REGoogle had hoped and will not be continued, according to a post on the company's blog.

"At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this research to the next level. So we've published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we've closed our efforts. We will continue our work to generate cleaner, more efficient energy — including our on-campus efforts, procuring renewable energy for our data centers, making our data centers even more efficient and investing more than $850 million in renewable energy technologies," according to the blog post.

As part of this effort, Google had invested in companies like Brightsource Energy and eSolar, with a special emphasis on concentrating solar power technology. Google invested $168 million in Brightsource's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a solar power tower project.

Google's engineering team focused their research on two areas of solar power technology: reducing the costs associated with heliostats, and reducing the cost and water consumption of the system. The company said research demonstrates how overall costs could be reduced for this kind of technology.

Other project cancelations announced by the company include Google Wave, a collaborative social media service; Google Gears, an offline web browser service; and Knol, a Wikipedia-style reference project.

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