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Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech

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Search engine giant Google and conglomerate GE have announced a partnership to collaborate on energy policy and technology, including pushing for a smarter electricity grid, cleaner power generation and greener transportation. GE’s CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt made the announcement from Zeitgeist, an annual gathering at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, where Schmidt interviewed Immelt and applauded GE’s pioneering role in building energy technology.

The partnership between the two companies will focus on both technology and policy, because, as the companies wrote in a note, “the current regulatory and economic model is failing to drive the innovation and investment we need in today’s electric grid.” Immelt, a longtime Republican who advocates hands-off government and freedom of the market, said during the presentation that sometimes government needs to be “a catalyst for change.”

Initially, the companies will work on policy aimed at building out more electricity transmission lines, which will connect renewable energy to the grid, as well as implementing smart grid technology. Google and GE will jointly develop policy proposals, advocate and analyze policies, and develop media and information campaigns. During the presentation, both Schmidt and Immelt — as well as former Vice President Al Gore, who was in the audience — lamented the inability thus far of congress to renew the clean energy tax credits that will expire before the end of the year.

When it comes to technology, the companies will start out by collaborating on enhanced geothermal and plug-in vehicles, specifically electric-vehicle-enabling technologies, including software and services that help utilities. Google has recently invested in both areas (via In August Google said it would invest $10.25 million into AltaRock Energy and Potter Drilling, in addition to a grant for the Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab. And in July Google said it has invested $2.75 million investment in green vehicle startups Aptera Motors and ActaCell.

GE has pledged to invest $1.5 billion annually on its Ecomagination R&D by 2010. Ecomagination is the term GE uses to describe its eco products initiatives, which now includes 45 energy- and environment-related products and services, including energy-efficient lighting, hybrid vehicle systems and wind and solar technology. Immelt has been lauded for leading GE’s charge into eco-goods. The company’s goal is to reach $20 billion in Ecomagination sales by 2010.

9 Responses to “Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech”

  1. This is a step in the right direction on raising visibility around this issue. It really is all about that last mile (smart meter) and providing the technology and insight into the home that is going to affect real change and move the needle on broader residential energy efficiency technology and adoption.

    What we need are comprehensive platforms that connect utilities and their households in a real-time, two-way dialog. Providing this unprecedented insight into home energy consumption at a granular level and empowering the consumer to make measurable, simple decisions in their everyday lives will be the catalyst in driving greater adoption of energy efficiency. The information gap has been the biggest hurdle in allowing households to understand the impact of their energy usage and change consumption behavior.

    -Adrian Tuck, CEO Tendril and Vice-Chair of ZigBee Alliance

  2. Dear Googles GEegles

    Just spend your money until your green.
    Geothermal fine – expensive lots of maintenance….
    We go one step further1

    We set the future for multi renewable energy collection not as a set of straight endless rows of brittle shiny panels in a desert, or visual polluting wind turbines but as an artificial …tree…. ‘Forest’ made of artificial natural looking ‘trees’.

    We make use of natures perfect design – a TREE – innovative use of the latest nanotechnologies has made it possible to introduce soon our Highly Efficient Nanoleaves assembled onto artificial natural looking ‘trees’.

    The ‘Nanoleaves’ including petiole are a true ingenious concept a little power house, a combination of thermo- photovoltaics, for conversion of light and heat, joint with piezovoltaic, tiny generators that generate electricity from movement of the wind. That’s three conversions in one system (Tree) and course, our landscape still looks wonderful and it would be nicely cool in a shadow of this forest on a hot summer day.

    What does this mean for the future?
    The field of biomimetics is the application of methods and systems, found in nature. To capitalize on the wealth of designs and processes found in nature, engineering and technology, has spawned a number of innovations far superior to what the human mind alone could have devised. The reason is simple. Nature, through billions of years of trial and error, has produced effective solutions to innumerable complex real-world problems. The rigorous competition of natural selection means waste and efficiency are not tolerated in natural systems. Solar Botanics is replicating natural manufacturing methods as in the production of chemical compounds by plants and animals; this will enable Solar Botanics to directly tap into nature’s ingenuity. In the near future, Solar Botanics will “grow” because of improved efficiency and aesthetic design (in tune with nature) to serve our energy needs through the application of pragmatic natural solutions developed by evolution.
    Trees and shrubs can be planted most of the time without permission because they fit in with our local scenery. Trees, plants and shrubs have a esthetical function the enhance our city and meeting places, or are just there to give us a nice view when we look out of our window. Trees decrease our visual awareness if it comes to visual or noise pollution. The psychology effect of trees takes care of a better micro climate, extreme temperatures are reduced and absorbed; trees and shrubs give protection against wind, and sun. Trees are a source of inspiration for artistic creativity. Trees carry a culture of history they can show the history of a place and are often proof of past history. Trees are a symbol growth and energy, trees have a economic value. The presence of trees often increases the value of property, especially mature trees that at the same time deliver more energy.
    The added value of solar botanic trees are; providing shade, cooling the air, wind break, crop protection, prevention of heat islands in cities, road glare, noise barrier, protection of dune vegetation. Solar botanic trees can be fitted with additional equipment to filter the air, (taking out CO2) and water. Water management can be controlled by trees.

    Various renewable energy producers are investing heavily, including Google, GE and Pickens the new kid on the block, joining the renewable energy market, their marketing machines running on maximum speed, daily TV adds on CNN and BBC are proof of the importance, to gain consumer interest, to promote green energy and so on.

    However, their best efforts of promoting safe and clean energy is also reason for concern as some renewable energy systems are not all that friendly, and some industries starting to feel resistance towards their systems.
    Human intervention (Google) and exploitation in the ecosystem will produce changes in order to meet the desired objectives. According to the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, in many parts of the world the consumption of ecosystems services are managed in an unsustainable way. Therefore it is strongly necessary to find direct drivers of ecosystem management that can provide more effective cost-benefit opportunities for multipurpose systems, which can meet multiple goals, including the pervasive environmental, social, and economic objectives of sustainable development.

    PS: our trees also re-charge “plug-in” cars and re-load Hydro Fuel cells.