So, we learned in recent days that Chevy Volt batteries can catch fire in accidents. Welcome to the Pinto of our time. Oh goody: another product liability suit in the making.
Meanwhile, Google has quietly abandoned an alternative energy program that it launched with great fanfare just two years ago. Google’s “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” project featured all the hallmarks of the pie-in-the-sky energy mongers, especially the “it’s-just-around-the-corner” trope. Google’s green energy czar at the launch, Bill Weihl, predicted that renewable electricity cheaper than coal would be achieved quickly: “In three years, we could have multiple megawatts of plants out there.”
A few months after that announcement, Google invested $38 million in two North Dakota wind farms built by NextEra Energy Resources, with 169 megawatts of capacity, enough to power 55,000 homes. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said about it at the time:
“Google said it is investing directly in projects to accelerate the deployment of the latest clean-energy technology while providing attractive returns to Google and more capital for developers to build additional projects.”
But the next paragraph gave away the game:
“Google’s stakes in the wind farms are ‘tax equity’ investments, in which investors buy into a project and use federal tax credits granted to the project to offset their own taxes.”
And this is even more illuminating:
“A Google spokesman said the electricity generated by the wind farms wouldn’t be used to power the company’s data centers, which house networks of computer servers. Google’s power usage is unclear; it doesn’t disclose how many data centers it operates or where each is located. Last year, it said its data centers were the most efficient in the world, so far as it was able to determine, but declined to say how much power it actually uses.”
So, you can’t power data centers on windmills? Who knew? But now Google has said “never mind” to the whole idea. And their green energy czar, Weihl, left Google a month ago. I’m sure he can get a job at Solyndra.