Having already conquered the Internet, Google announced plans to develop renewable energy. Google is a huge consumer of electric power, so they're highly motivated to find cost-effective and environmentally-friendly sources of energy.
Larry Page (co-founder) writes:
"Our goal is to build 1 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic that this can be done within years, not decades. If we succeed, it would likely provide a path to replacing a substantial portion of the world’s electricity needs with renewable energy sources."
Here's The New York Times' take on it:
For some Wall Street analysts, the most relevant question is not whether Google can save the world, but whether the company’s idealism may ultimately distract it from its core businesses of organizing the world’s information and selling online ads.
“My first reaction when I read about this was, ‘Is this a joke?’” said Jordan Rohan of RBC Capital Markets. “I’ve written off Google’s competition as a threat to Google’s long-term market share gains. But I haven’t written off Google’s own ability to stretch too far and try to do too much. Ultimately, that is the biggest risk in the Google story.”
Robert Peck of Bear Stearns agreed that “the headlines were a little scary at first” and said investors were initially worried that this was another example of Google “trying to bite off more than they can chew.”
Not exactly core to their mission of making all the world's information accessible, nor core to their business plan of making money through advertising. As a Google shareholder, I must admit that I'm a bit surprised by this announcement. But they've earned quite a bit of leeway given the stratospheric rise of their stock, so I'll keep a "wait and see" attitude on this one.
Update: Silicon Alley Insider, one of my favorite blogs, has this take on the news.