The Strange Thing About Google’s Decision To Stop Renewable Energy Research

google NRG

From left, Rick Needham of Google and David Crane of NRG Energy field questions during 2014 dedication of Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest solar thermal plant.

Two senior Google engineers have written a confusing article explaining what they learned after Google stopped its advanced research and development effort into renewable energy technologies in 2011.

The answer they offer — that their effort was not on track to deliver renewable R&D breakthroughs that by themselves would reverse climate change — has always been obvious and thus makes very little sense as a reason for giving up on such an important effort, as we will see.

More likely, Google saw renewable energy prices coming down so quickly as global deployment accelerated that they realized their chances to make money in the R&D arena were much smaller than they thought. And they clearly understood that the real action in advancing renewable energy was in deployment, which Google continued to fund at a far greater level than they ever invested in R&D.


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