Ross Koningstein & David Fork via IEEE Spectrum:
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Starting in 2007, Google committed significant resources to tackle the world’s climate and energy problems.
Google’s boldest energy move was an effort known as RE<C, which aimed to develop renewable energy sources that would generate electricity more cheaply than coal-fired power plants do. The company announced that Google would help promising technologies mature by investing in start-ups and conducting its own internal R&D. Its aspirational goal: to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than a coal-fired plant could, and to achieve this in years, not decades.
Unfortunately, not every Google moon shot leaves Earth orbit. By 2011, it was clear that RE<C would not be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal, and Google officially ended the initiative and shut down the related internal R&D projects. The conclusion: even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions.