Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Google: Renewable energy is still unsustainable energy

A working definition of so-called renewable energy remains as “energy produced by means that would be uneconomic without tax breaks and subsidies.”

The distinguishing characteristic of so called 'renewable energy' is not that it is renewable (or there wouldn’t be such opposition to nuclear, or new hydro), but that it doesn't produce reliable energy.

Renewable energy is economically unsustainable energy.

Google thought they could change that.

Google failed.

Starting in 2007, [say two Google engineers who worked on the project] 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. In 2011, the company decided that RE<C was not on track to meet its target and shut down the initiative. The two of us, who worked as engineers on the internal RE<C projects, were then forced to re-examine our assumptions.
    At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope…


[Hat tip Paul van D.]

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