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Google Unveils $4.4 Trillion Clean Energy Plan

google.jpgThis week, Google unveiled a $4.4 trillion plan (in undiscounted 2008 dollars) to help America kick its fossil fuel habits by 2030. The search giant says the plan could return a net savings of $1 trillion over the 22-year life of the plan.

In September, GE and Google announced plans to lobby together in Washington D.C. for renewable energy and to collaborate on advanced energy technologies – including the development of a smart grid.

Dubbed “Clean Energy 2030,” the plan recommends America take action in three key areas:

1. Push for more renewable energy by 2030 to replace coal and oil electricity generation
The plan calls for wind power to increase by nearly twenty-fold; solar power to jump from its current 1 gigawatt to 250 gigawatts; and the remaining power generation to come from geothermal, hydropower and nuclear.

2. Reduce demand for new electricity with energy efficient power grids and investments
The search giant has been least vocal about this move but says on its blog that “it is looking at ways that we can use our information technology and our reach to help increase awareness and bring better, real-time information to consumers.”

3. Accelerate the rollout of plug-in vehicles to remove gas-guzzling vehicles off the roads
Google wants 22 million plug-in vehicles to make up half the total estimated vehicles on American roads by 2030.

Although the plan offers details and pricetags to remake America’s energy landscape, Keith Johnson of Wall Street Journal wonders how realistic the plan is.

Johnson writes that “it is hard to see how turbine manufacturers can keep pace” to meet U.S. demands or “drive capital costs down by 2030.” But investment in renewable-energy represents the largest chunk of the plan -about $1.6 trillion.

What’s more, Johnson writes that “even clean-energy optimists at the Department of Energy figure it will be a stretch to make wind power account for 20 percent of the power supply.” In May, a U.S Department of Energy report examined the possibility of harnessing enough wind power to provide up to 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity needs by 2030.

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