Google has launched its new RechargeIT initiative to promote the development of plug-in hybrid electric cars in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global dependence on oil. Under the guidance of Google’s own philanthropic team, the new initiative will award $1 million in grants and a further $10 million to fund the development and eventual commercialization of plug-in hybrids.

The technology company has also launched a new solar panel installation at its Mountain View headquarters in California, which should develop up to 1.6 megawatts of power – enough to power roughly 1,000 homes.

Not only is Google interested in creating a reliable plug-in hybrid, its new initiative will also support the development of a sustainable electricity grid. Under the proposal, owners would be able to sell back unused energy when power across the grid is running low.

Partnering with A123Systems-Hymotion, Google has already tested a fleet of Toyota Prius vehicles that were converted into plug-in hybrids. In the initial tests, the fleet’s fuel efficiency averaged 74mpg, stark contrast to the 41mpg for the test fleet of non-plug-in Prius cars.