Between 2007 and 2011, Google invested heavily in renewable energy research with the goal of producing energy from renewable energy sources more cheaply than from coal, thus replacing coal-fired power plants through price competition. In 2011 Google shut down the effort after making little progress towards its goal. Now two Google engineers who were involved in the project have published an article in [em]IEEE Spectrum[/em] arguing that conventional sources of renewable energy will never be enough to replace coal, and calling for a “fundamentally different approach” that meets the following criteria:
*produces zero carbon dioxide emissions
*generates electricity for less than $0.04-$0.06/kWh
*is “dispatchable” (can be started and stopped at will in a relatively short time, or can have its power output adjusted on demand)
They also recommend a distributed power source to cut down on transmission and distribution costs. They don’t recommend a specific technology, but they do use nuclear fusion as a possible example:
A disruptive fusion technology, for example, might skip the steam and produce high-energy charged particles that can be converted directly into electricity.
Interesting. I wonder if there’s more going on behind the scenes at Google. They’ve hosted various fusion entrepreneurs at their Tech Talk and Solve For X events, but so far they haven’t invested significantly in fusion research. Is that about to change, I wonder? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like this article was tailor-made for Focus Fusion. Of course, there are other fusion concepts out there, but I think none of them, if successful, would meet the above criteria as well as FF would.
Maybe it would be worth contacting these engineers – sounds like they ran across the various fusion projects, and liked the ideas behind the projects. They might provide some inroads to approaching companies like Google and entities like the Gates Foundation(although I know they have their own thing going on).