Google to Make Solar Energy Cheaper than Coal

Google logoGoogle is at it again, we’ve covered Google quite a bit, more than any other company I think. It’s just so nice to see a company with billions of dollars at their disposal directing their energy at improving the world (and yes, I know that Google is nowhere near perfect and Sun is more the environmentally friendly tech company).

This time around they are contuning their solar power drive by investing in companies that will encourage the use of renewable energy. They emphasize solar power, but they are not limiting the hundreds of millions of dollars they want to invest in solar power.

“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,” Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and president of products, said in a statement.

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

Google is seeking to capitalize on the recent excitement among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to apply the risk taking that computer, biotech and Internet businesses are famous for to the field of alternative energy production.

Google’s latest moves come as the price of a barrel of oil nears $100 and coal, which produces 40 percent of the world’s electricity, faces regulatory and environmental pressures that could drive up prices.

IBM Turns Electronic Trash Into Solar Cache

IBM has started a new program that recycles old computer chips and converts them into solar panels. They are taking computer chips (which are usually chopped to bits) and ‘erasing’ the chip pattern then putting them as wafers in solar panels. This will surely make solar power cheaper in the future!

The 3 million scrapped wafers each year could be used to create solar panels to power 6,000 houses, IBM said.

“It’s a simple process but it really returns benefits on so many different levels,” Jagielski said. “Not only do we reduce our overall use of silicon, but then to be able to create a raw material for the solar panel industry is kind of a good story all the way around.”

Tidal Power for San Francisco

Golden gate
Readers of this site may remember that San Francisco spent some money investigating the feasibility of tidal power for the city last September. Well, things are definitely going good with that study has it’s entered a new phase. The San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Golden Gate Energy Co. have agreed to further the study and invest $1.8 million into it. If this next phase goes well it may open up more opportunities for tidal power generation as the San Francisco project will have to take into consideration many factors that may deter other cities from trying such an initiative.

The $1.8 million study would seek to determine how much electricity could be generated, what kind of technology would work best and whether the project makes sense economically. It would also examine the project’s possible impacts on marine life and the environment.

Buoys Make Power

In 2008 along the UK shoreline small underwater buoys will be generating electricity using that age old technology: wave power. The advantages to putting the buoys 50 meters under the water surface lies in that storms will not damage them, surface wave-powered generators can be damaged by rough seas.

“A town with 55,000 inhabitants would need half a square kilometre of seabed covered with 100 buoys to power it,” says Grey.

He adds that they could be effective in the North Atlantic, from Scotland down to Portugal, along the Pacific US shoreline, from San Francisco in the US up to Vancouver in Canada, along the coast of Chile, and even in South Africa and New Zealand.

But calmer seas, such as the Mediterranean do not have enough wave height to pump the buoy.

New York to Power Buildings Using Renewable Energy

Mayor Bloomberg shows no sign of slowing down his drive to reduce New York City’s carbon emissions, which is of course a good thing. He’s now set to announce that municipal buildings in NYC will switch to solar power and move from dirty regular oil to a less-damaging biodiesel. Other mayors (and North American federal leaders!) should follow NYC’s example of emission cutting.

On Monday, Bloomberg said the city will issue a request for proposals for a pilot program to install solar panels on city-owned buildings in hopes of generating 2 megawatts of solar capacity _ offsetting about 320 tons of emissions per year, equal to taking more than 50 U.S. cars per year off the streets. The city will not pay for the installation but will buy electricity from the provider.

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