Thursday, September 25, 2008

Google and General Electric Team Up on Energy Initiatives

NY Times

September 17, 2008, 10:09 pm

By Miguel Helft

Google and General Electric said on Wednesday that they would work together on technology and policy initiatives to promote the development of additional capacity in the electricity grid and of “smart grid” technologies to enable plug-in hybrids and to manage energy more efficiently. The companies said their goal was to make renewable energy more accessible and useful.

Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, and G.E.’s chief executive, Jeffrey R. Immelt, alluded briefly to the partnership in a joint appearance at Google’s Zeitgeist conference, which is taking place at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

The two executives gave few details of their planned collaboration. In an interview after their presentation, Dan Reicher, director of climate change and energy initiatives at, an operating unit of Google, said the effort was in its planning stages and did not have a set budget.

“All this talk about renewable energy will not be realized if we do not build substantial additional transmission capacity,” Mr. Reicher said.

Without additional capacity, Mr. Reicher said, it would not be possible, for example, to get power from a solar plant in the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles, or from a wind farm in the Dakotas to Chicago. Mr. Reicher said that environmental standards, overlapping state and federal regulations and other policy issues were among the biggest impediments to building additional transmission capacity.

Google and G.E. are also discussing how to combine their respective software and hardware expertise to enable technologies like plug-in hybrids on a large scale and to accelerate the development of geothermal energy.

For Google, the partnership with G.E. is part of larger set of energy initiatives, including direct investments in green technology to help develop renewable energy that is cheaper to produce than coal-generated power. For its part, G.E. has made a large bet on green energy technologies, an initiative the company calls Ecomagination.

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