Skip to Content

Google Saves the World

The company will spend millions to make renewable energy cheaper than coal.
November 28, 2007

Yesterday Google announced a new renewable-energy initiative. While the press release is a little unclear about how it will play out, the initiative will pour tens of millions of dollars into developing cheap, clean energy next year. It’s not just philanthropy. In the coming years, the company also hopes to spend hundreds of millions on clean-energy investments that will make a lot of money.

The goal is to drive down the cost of renewable energy, making it less expensive than even coal, the cheapest source of electricity. A number of other companies have also been working on this.

In a deft public-relations maneuver, Google’s huge, energy-hungry data centers have been transformed from an environmental liability into a basis for making the company an environmental leader. Here’s a bit from the press release:

“We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers,” said Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products. “We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.”

Brilliant. I’m pretty sure Brin and Page zipping around in their new private Boeing 757 and their legendary Boeing 767 “party jet” also makes them environmental heroes, although I haven’t quite figured out how yet.

Although perhaps in a different class, another leading environmentally Janus-faced company is BP, whose corroding pipelines flooded Prudhoe Bay in Alaska with 200,000 gallons of crude oil in 2006. This year the company announced $500 million in funding for a clean-energy initiative.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

thermal image of young woman wearing mask
thermal image of young woman wearing mask

The covid tech that is intimately tied to China’s surveillance state

Heat-sensing cameras and face recognition systems may help fight covid-19—but they also make us complicit in the high-tech oppression of Uyghurs.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.