GE and Google will lobby together in Washington D.C. for renewable energy and are collaborating on advanced energy technologies – including the development of a smart grid.
“Our goal is to provide consumers with improved and expanded energy choices, whether it’s buying renewable power, driving a plug-in car, or reducing energy bills by managing home energy use,” the companies said in the announcement.
This isn’t the first time the companies have been on the same page when it comes to energy. In August, representatives from Google and GE told a group of politicians and energy experts at the National Clean Energy Summit that widespread use of renewable energy in U.S. may be possible; if it were cheaper.
Both companies are already investing heavily in renewable energy. GE has announced plans to double its investments in renewable energy to $6 billion by 2010 and Google is spending tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy under an initiative dubbed RE<C, for Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal. That initiative was announced last year.
Policy priorities for the new collaboration include planning, siting, and cost allocation for the transmission capacity necessary to enable large scale deployment of renewable electricity generation in the U.S. and the development – and deployment – of a smart grid.
Extending the renewable energy tax credit will almost certainly be on the list of priorities. GE Energy’s John Krenicki recently pleaded with senators to extend tax credits for renewable energy, which are set to expire at the end of the year.
On the tech side, GE and Google says they will collaborate to develop and deploy renewable energy and plug-in vehicle related technologies (Google is already developing plug-in vehicles through its RechargeIT initiative). The companies will also work on utility-scale renewable energy with an initial focus on geothermal technology. This is another favorite of Google, the company recently announced plans to invest more than $10 million in AltaRock Energy ($6.25 million) and Potter Drilling ($4 million) to help develop “enhanced geothermal systems” technology with the goal of generating one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity.
Another priority are the software, controls and services necessary for utilities to integrate plug-in vehicles into the grid.
Of course, GE and its Ecomagination program already has a huge tech budget committed to many of these technologies. GE recently reported that revenues from its environmental portfolio topped $14 billion in 2007, up more than 15 percent compared with 2006, and the company’s “cleantech” fund — investment in cleaner technology research and development — surpassed $1 billion for the first time.