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Google hopes to undercut coal with cheap, renewable energy

Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica
By now, everyone is familiar with Google’s corporate motto, “Don’t be evil.” In an effort to spread that message of not-being-evil, the search engine behemoth has announced a plan to develop sources of renewable energy that will be cheaper than coal. The new initiative, RE<C, (renewable energy is cheaper than coal) will begin by focusing on solar power technology, and will also encompass geothermal energy production.

RE<C’s plan, in conjunction with Google’s philanthropic, is to drive the development of cheaper alternative energy through the use of grants and investments. According to Dr. Larry Brilliant, head of, the “hope is that by funding research on promising technologies, investing in promising new companies, and doing a lot of R&D ourselves, we may help spark a green electricity revolution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than coal.”

The company itself is also trying hard to reduce its drain on the environment.
(28 November 2007)
Related at the Guardian: Google to pour millions into search for cheap green fuel.
At the LA Times: Google unveils its green dreams

Roadside Solar Panels New Theft Target

Chris Lehman, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
It seems that even crooks have jumped on the renewable energy bandwagon.

The Oregon State Police says about a half-dozen solar panels have been stolen in the past year from changeable message signs.

Those are the kind that warn drivers about things like icy roads or construction zones. The solar panels allow the signs to be placed in remote locations without easy access to electricity.

Oregon State Police Lieutenant Greg Hastings says the crimes appear to be pre-meditated.

Greg Hastings: “Someone would need to probably pull up in a pick-up or a utility type of a truck. It’s not something that you would take off and then walk down the highway unnoticed by anyone as you carry it away.”

The panels are four feet wide and are worth about a thousand dollars. Hastings says no one has been caught.
(26 November 2007)

As the Price of Oil Soars, Many Turn to Renewables

Steven Mufson Washington Post
Thomas M. Rainwater spent 25 years in what people today call the traditional, old-fashioned energy business. An engineer by training, he worked at nuclear and coal-fired power stations, was a marketing executive for a natural gas producer and pipeline, and finally a top strategist for a Canadian power-generation company with a market capitalization of $5.5 billion.

Then in July Rainwater moved to the Washington area to become chief executive of SunEdison, a Beltsville company that is building and servicing solar panels on the rooftops of warehouses, supermarkets and other commercial buildings around the country. SunEdison is a tiny fraction of the size of his former employer, but Rainwater said “there is growing recognition across the land, across the globe, that we need to do something different to fire the economy.”

More and more people like Rainwater are joining the emerging green economy — and many of them are doing it in the Washington area. While many companies in this region are doing small things to burnish their environmental credentials, a few companies like SunEdison are inventing new business models, coming up with new technology or arranging new financing on a large scale.
(26 November 2007)

Head of Wind Association makes the case for wind

Energy Policy TV
Washington, DC –
Randall Swisher, Executive Director, American Wind Energy Association;
Grant Stockdale, CEO, Energy Policy TV;
Scott Nance, Content Acquisition Manager, Energy Policy TV

Swisher describes the growth experienced by the wind power industry as it comes off a record year, as well as its transmission and tax credit challenges. Swisher also outlines the opportunity for the wind industry to grow as an engine of job creation in the U.S.

40 min
(25 October 2007)
Swisher goes into economics, technology and legislative aspects of wind energy. Not a rah-rah piece, but a detailed discussion more suited for policy wonks and business people. -BA