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November 30, 2011
Google Abandons Renewable Energy Initiative
    by Robert Kropp

The IT giant says it will maintain its efforts to improve energy efficiency in its data centers and continue to invest in renewable energy.

Four years ago, Google launched its Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative, which invested in renewable technologies in an effort to drive down their costs.

In a blog post published last week, Senior Vice President Urs Hölzle revealed that the company is retiring the initiative.

"At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this research to the next level," Hölzle wrote.

During the lifespan of the initiative, Google invested $168 million in the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) being developed by Brightsource Energy. Located in California's Mojave Desert, the solar complex uses mirrors to focus the solar energy on receivers atop power towers. It is the world's largest power tower project, and upon completion in 2013 will generate 392 MW of solar energy.

Google also invested in eSolar to help the company expand its work on concentrating solar power technology.

In addition to its investments in solar technologies, Google invested in the geothermal drilling technology developed by Potter Drilling, and sponsored research leading to the development of the first Geothermal Map of the US.

Although Google has retired its initiative, the company says it will continue to support energy efficiency measures, both on college campuses and in its own data centers, and continue to invest in renewables as well. It has collaborated with Clean Power Finance (CPF) and SolarCity in the creation of funds to help bring rooftop solar to more than 10,000 homes.

Google has also committed to take a 37.5% stake in the initial development stage of the 350-mile Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC), which would provide an underwater backbone to connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines.


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