Google Researches Clean Energy Generation, Reveals Solar Patent

Not content with not being evil, Google wants to be clean too. It has revealed it is to invest in clean energy R&D with the aim of active clean power generation - cheaper than coal. By Jeremy Torr.

Google is not just interested in windmills anymore, but is working on green power generation concepts.

Google is not just interested in windmills anymore, but is working on green power generation concepts.

Mountain View, California 7 July 2011.  At its recent shareholder meeting, Google announced a new R&D team to work on green power generation concepts. It looks like Google is not just interested in windmills, but wants to develop ideas that bring sizeable chunks of energy to market efficiently and cheaply.

Google has from the start pitched itself as a good Earth citizen, veering between philanthropy and business. On the other hand, it obviously wants to make sure of its own high-energy future needs in a rapidly changing legislative environment.

Google's long-held aim to make renewable energy cheaper than coal - what it calls RE < C - has been given new charge by this start up R&D section. It has slated  five new positions in its Renewable Energy Engineering wing in Mountain View, to look at its own energy usage to maintain its carbon-neutral stance, but more importantly to look at new technologies it might be able to work with.

The renewable energy R&D team will be responsible for evaluating early-stage technology and prototyping, and looking at possible design and manufacturing on a utility-scale. The team will, according to the brief for the key players “be designing useful systems that must deliver cost-effective results in the real world." It has just revealed its first patent for solar energy techniques so has signaled it is serious about the move.

Rick Needham, Google's Director of Green Business Operations and Strategy, was quoted earlier this year as underlining the company approach was not just investment. It wants real products too. "We want to have an impact on the scale of the project, and an impact because of the technology being deployed on a scale that allows those technologies to be financed and deployed at other locations," he said.

Google’s PR says there isn't a problem that's any bigger or more real than generating renewable energy and bringing it to market. It looks like the search engine company is taking this spiel seriously and taking steps to get nerdy engineers under its wing just like it did for internet search. If it can find seriously scalable ways to solve part of that puzzle it may become as famous for green power as it is for searching.

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