Google and General Electric have partnered to accelerate the development of new energy technologies and government policies.
The companies want to see electricity used more efficiently, generated from cleaner sources like wind, the sun and geothermal heat, and applied more broadly in transportation through battery-powered cars.
The CEOs of the two corporate giants made the announcement at Google’s annual Zeitgeist event that gathers industry, media and political leaders in Mountain View, California.
The companies’ partnership will focus on both technology and government lobbying.
They will attempt to advance technology for generating geothermal power, which comes from underground heat, and for integrating plug-in electric cars into the power grid.
Google and GE have identified Enhanced Geothermal Systems as one area of priority, including reservoir visualization and power conversion.
In addition, they will focus on software and services that electric utilities can employ to make electric grids more stable and better able to support plug-in vehicles, which run entirely or partially on rechargeable batteries.
Google and GE will also lobby government to stimulate investment and innovation in new energy systems that take advantage of sources other than oil.
“There’s fundamentally two things that have to be done, and both of which we’re working with Google on. One is that there’s going to have to be more capacity, and if we really want to drive renewable energy to where it could be in this country, we’re going to have to have more transmission and distribution,” said GE CEO Jeff Immelt, adding that government support is critical to make this happen.
“The second thing is that there’s got to be a ‘smart grid’ which allows it to operate more effectively both in the last mile, but also as you wheel power around the country. That’s fundamentally software and gadgets,” Immelt said.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that he expects many companies to participate in the Google-GE initiatives.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who was at the event, complimented Immelt “for not only providing leadership within General Electric but also having the political courage as a business leader to speak up in Washington D.C., and to join with other business leaders, not as many as we should have, to advocate policies.”