The cupidity of mainstream reporting never ceases to amaze me.
Most especially damning is their ritual acceptance of the oil industry’s frame, which is they are the only solution, and that renewable energy is a pipe dream, because if it weren’t they’d be investing in it.
So here it is again, in Reuters’ reporting that Google sees renewables as a long term vision, not a short term fix. “It is not predicting victory soon,” the reporter writes, noting that it has “already” invested $350 million.
That’s one-sixth of what just one oil company, ExxonMobil, is putting in Nigeria this year. It’s a drop in the bucket.
What has Google gotten for its money? Only participation in seven of the largest, scaled renewable projects worldwide. Some of the world’s biggest wind, solar and geothermal projects are being made possible through Google’s investments. It’s on the ground floor of progress.
It’s true. The energy economy won’t be remade in a day. But Google has already made itself the low-cost provider of Internet services in the world, by a large distance, and energy is one reason for that. It’s their secret sauce. Ads drive revenue, and close attention to costs drives profit from that revenue.
There is a lot we can all learn from Google. Some of it was discussed by Energy Secretary Stephen Chu in a recent talk at Dartmouth:
Much of the most promising research today, Chu said, involves simple things like improving the energy density of batteries and the efficiency of long-haul electricity transmission. As important as research in biofuels may be, research in building more efficient trucks can be just as profitable. Most American universities and supercomputer resources are now tied into the effort, and in this China is our ally, their efficiency and renewable production moderating demand for non-renewable sources just as ours does.
But it’s the effort of a generation, Chu added. You may call it the crisis of our time, the great problem of our time, the enormous challenge before our children.
Or, like Google, you can call it the opportunity of a lifetime and invest accordingly.