In a move that could eventually lower its energy costs and boost environmentalism, the world's top Internet search provider, Google, said Tuesday it will invest tens of millions of dollars next year in renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power.

Google, whose data centers are voracious consumers of electricity, says it is launching a strategic new initiative named Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal, which aims to provide cheaper, unsubsidized energy at a cost lower than coal-fired plants.

We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers, said Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products. We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal.

Google says the renewable energy technologies can develop into industries which can provide electricity cheaper than coal. The company's goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity in years, not decades. A gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco.

Coal currently provides about 40 percent of the world's electricity and is a prime contributor to greenhouse gases, which have been linked to global warming.

Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind, added Sergey Brin, Google Co- founder and President of Technology., Google's philanthropic arm will fund outside research, invest in new companies and do a lot of the company's research and development, Google said.

Google said it is working eSolar, and Makani Power, a pair of California firms specializing in solar thermal power and wind energy.