Google.org (s GOOG) continues to dole out the dough, on Monday awarding a $250,000 grant to the U.S. National Academies for a cooperative U.S.-Chinese study on renewable electricity. The 18-month transnational study has three goals:
- Assess the potential of utility-scale renewable energy in China and the U.S.
- Explore near-term market opportunities for mature technologies
- Recommend energy priorities with a focus on grid connectivity and storage
Getting the world’s two largest energy markets to collaborate on renewable energy makes a lot of business sense for the fast-growing cleantech investor. Google.org is a for-profit charity organization which has more than $100 million invested with its biggest plays in clean energy. Sure, we like that the study could help reduce the emissions of the world’s two largest polluters, but we also like that its part of an investment strategy seeking both economical and ecological returns.
While Google has grabbed headlines with its $4.4 trillion energy plan to kick America’s fossil fuel habit, that massive sum will have to be doled out in far smaller batches to tease out the innovative energy ideas that will power our future. I think we all know how Sergei and Larry would answer the question Tom Brokaw posed at the presidential debate: “Should we fund a Manhattan-like project that develops a nuclear bomb to deal with global energy and alternative energy or should we fund 100,000 garages across America, the kind of industry and innovation that developed Silicon Valley?”