Despite the best of intentions, Google is not going to be the energy savior and miracle worker everyone was hoping it was going to be. They have decided to stop its solar power research program in light of the fact that in 2009 Congress was unwillingness to create a trade system and carbon cap, which didn’t do much to encourage the project’s success.
Earlier this year, Google also stopped working with homeowners to help them monitor and manage their energy consumption better, in a project called PowerMeter, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that a change was coming. As the economy continues to struggle, any progress to try and clean up water, air and the surrounding environment will continue to be tough to accomplish.
In 2007, Google pledged to spend millions of dollars helping scientists and engineers come up with a viable way to take 1 gigawatt of clean electricity and make it cheaper to use than coal. Google CEO, Eric Schmidt came up with and presented a plan in 2008, supporting a way for the US to eventually get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources as well as decrease overall energy costs, create much needed jobs, reduce emissions by half and more.
The ambitious plan has been shelved by Google, with no talk of revisiting it themselves. They did, however, publish all of their information in hopes that it will help those in the field continue with the research and advance the state of power technology. They spent over $850 million in various projects in renewable energy technology and hopes that it will have not been for nothing, so they have not stopped caring about this project, they have just changed their focus and are now going to concentrate on project financing rather than conducting the actual research themselves.
Google feels that other institutions are in a better position than they are to carry on this research to the levels it needs to be taken to, but they have invested millions of dollars in many areas of research for energy renewables. There are many commercial projects going that are using some of the technologies Google has been responsible for funding, but despite the large amount of funding given, these projects are still in the early stages.
Don’t think that this means that Google doesn’t care about the environment anymore. They are just digging into the bank account, rather than the research aspect to continue looking for ways to achieve what they want to accomplish. Because they don’t feel they have the resources needed to do the research themselves and go to the levels needed, they feel that is better use of their money and time to financially support the efforts of the institutions that can.
Funding is one of the major issues when it comes to projects like this, so having Google on their side financially can only be called a good thing. Google’s intentions were excellent, and re-directing their focus to some may look bad, but it’s actually a very well executed move. That could very well reap the benefits that all of us, including Google could benefit from when it comes to a more energy efficient environment.
- Google Phases Out Clean Energy R&D in Favor of Deployment, Citing the “Compelling” Cost Reductions in Solar PV (thinkprogress.org)
- Google axes clean energy hacking (news.cnet.com)
- Google kills seven more projects including Renewable Energy and Knol (digitaltrends.com)