In the electricity sector, that bottom line comes down to the difference between the cost of generating electricity and its price. In the United States alone, we’re aiming to replace about 1 terawatt of generation infrastructure over the next 40 years. This won’t happen without a breakthrough energy technology that has a high profit margin. Subsidies may help at first, but only private sector involvement, with eager money-making investors, will lead to rapid adoption of a new technology. Each year’s profits must be sufficient to keep investors happy while also financing the next year’s capital investments. With exponential growth in deployment, businesses could be replacing 30 gigawatts of installed capacity annually by 2040.Which is using society's knowledge for the betterment of same: ...the "data" from which the economic calculus starts are never for the whole society "given" to a single mind which could work out the implications and can never be so given. Back to the Google Guys;
We’re glad that Google tried something ambitious with the RE<C initiative, and we’re proud to have been part of the project. But with 20/20 hindsight, we see that it didn’t go far enough, and that truly disruptive technologies are what our planet needs. To reverse climate change, our society requires something beyond today’s renewable energy technologies. Fortunately, new discoveries are changing the way we think about physics, nanotechnology, and biology all the time. While humanity is currently on a trajectory to severe climate change, this disaster can be averted if researchers aim for goals that seem nearly impossible.And has the courage to put its future in the hands of the entrepreneurs. Not the politicians.
And we'd be remiss not to mention this prescient 2010 Knowledge Problem post by Lynne Kiesling;
Yesterday Google announced that their ever-growing sustainability strategy now includes investing in wind generation. Although they pursue these opportunities through their philanthropic arm, they claim that they are looking for meaningful returns on their investments in addition to their sustainability impact:
........I do wonder, though, if such clean tech investments stretch the economies of scope in Google’s strategy. I’d love to know the exact arguments they have made internally in deciding on these renewable generation investments. While I think they take advantage of the expected policy environment (renewable portfolio standards, etc.), these investments are pretty different from Google’s traditional areas.