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A clean energy update

Google.org is launching an exciting project that offers a glimpse of a smarter energy future: cars that plug into an electric grid powered by solar energy. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (“plug-in hybrids”) can achieve 70 -100 miles per gallon, quadrupling the fuel economy of the average car on the road today (~20 mpg). As we demonstrated at today’s event, plug-in hybrids can sell power back to the electric grid when it's needed most through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology

As you may know, one of Google.org's core missions is to address climate change. In the U.S., transportation contributes about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions –- with more than 60 percent of those emissions coming from personal vehicles. By accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrids and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") technologies, this new project, RechargeIT.org, aims to reduce emissions and dependence on oil while promoting clean energy technologies and increasing consumer choice. Linking the U.S. transportation system to the electricity grid maximizes the efficiency of our energy system. From these efforts, we believe the environment will benefit -- and consumers will have more choices to fuel their cars.

We've been working with Google engineers and Hymotion/A123Systems to build a small fleet of plug-in hybrids, adding an external plug and additional batteries to a regular hybrid car so that it runs on electricity with gasoline (or even better, biofuels) to extend the driving range for longer trips. Here's what it looks like:Since most Americans drive less than 35 miles per day, you easily could drive mostly on electricity with the gas tank as a "safety net." Our goal is to demonstrate the plug-in hybrid and V2G technology, get people excited about having their own plug-in hybrid, and encourage car companies to start building them soon.

In the preliminary results from our test fleet, on average the plug-in hybrid gas mileage was 30+ mpg higher than that of the regular hybrids. In conjunction with Pacific Gas and Electric, we also demonstrated the bidirectional flow of electricity through V2G technology, and have awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

As for Google Inc., today the solar panel installation we announced last October is now producing clean, renewable electricity for our Mountain View, CA headquarters.The system will offset peak electricity consumption at the solar powered offices and the newly constructed solar carports have charging stations for the plug-in hybrids. At 1.6 megawatts -- with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes -- the Google project is the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S. to date, and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. To see how much electricity these panels are producing right now, visit our new performance monitoring site.