Google invests millions in green energy plans

Google is to spend tens of millions of dollars on developing electricity from renewable energy sources with the aim of making is cheaper than electricity from coal.

The initiative has been titled Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, and Google is hiring engineers and energy experts to lead the research, aiming to eventually develop renewable energy projects that generate positive returns.

Larry Page, Google's co-founder and president of products, said: "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.

"If we meet this goal and large-scale renewable deployments are cheaper than coal, the world will have the option to meet a substantial portion of electricity needs from renewable sources and significantly reduce carbon emissions. We expect this would be a good business for us as well."

One gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco.

Google did not disclose the levels of energy it consumes in powering its online services, but it is believed to be considerable and therefore the search giant wants to be involved in finding a better solution.

Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google's philanthropic arm, said: "As Google grows, we don't want our core business to be part of the problem. We want to be part of the solution."

Google announced earlier this year that it intended to be carbon neutral for 2007 and the company said it was on track to meet this goal. Google already promotes the use of electric cars and has a large solar energy panel on the roof of its US headquarters.

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