Ross Koningstein and David Fork, armed with the resources of Google, Inc., set out in an effort that was known as “RE<C” to assess and support the development of renewable energy sources so that they could generate reliable electricity more cheaply than coal. In an subsequent article penned in the IEEE Spectrum entitled What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change: Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?, we learn the results of their years of work.
Initially, Google announced that it would help promising technologies mature by investing in start-ups and even engaging in internal R&D. Its goal: to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than could a coal-fired plant within a few years, not decades. Unfortunately, within a few years, Google shut down the initiative, when it became clear that exclusively using renewables would not work. Koningstein and Fork then turned their attention to examining the the underlying assumptions and learning from their experience.
Even though there were a few sparse areas that might manage to achieve higher renewables penetration and approach the goal, it was clear that most regions of the world would not be able to power their needs with renewables, if looked at on a time-coincident basis. They determined that the only way to both stop new emissions and reverse the warming trends that had been put into motion by CO2 accumulations was through “radical technological advances in cheap zero-carbon energy, as well as a method of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering the carbon.”
Ross Koningstein serves as an advisor to Nucleation Capital and we have discussed and benefitted in many ways from his vast experience. Read Ross’ own published report at “What It Would Really Take to Reverse Climate Change: Today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us. So what will?.”