Google announced yesterday that it's trashing its Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal program, or or RE<C, as part of its "spring cleaning." (Ugh, Californians. It is nothing like spring right now.) This move puts RE<C in the same category as Google Wave, which was useless from the first moment it existed and was also offed in this (mushy, rainy, cold, November) round of housecleaning.
Google wants us to know that it's not giving up on green altogether, although the "green energy czar" who worked on RE<C also left the company this month. The RE<C page now urges visitors to check out this page, which details Google's efforts to cut energy use at its data centers and corporate campuses, buy offsets, and invest in renewable energy installations.
It seems that part of the issue here is that back in 2007, Google dug into technology that didn't fare so well. (Look, we’ll just say “like Solyndra” so nobody else has to.) A lot of its money and research effort went into solar power projects, like solar towers. Since then, silicon has become so freaking cheap that photovoltaics just make more sense, and planned utility-scale CSP projects have switched over to solar panels. RE<C also focused on geothermal power, which is a long way off from wide-spread use.