Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

Google: Green Tech Innovation as a Way Forward

July 1st, 2011 / in policy, research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

Clean Energy Innovation:  an analysis by google.orgEarlier this week, Google released a new report on energy innovation, in which it imagined a number of different possible energy scenarios for the U.S. Google concluded that energy innovation can grow the U.S. economy by $155 billion/year, create 1.1 million new net jobs, and save consumers almost $1000/year, while simultaneously reducing our oil consumption by 1.1 billion barrels/year and our green house emissions by 13%.

The report didn’t delve into any specific technological breakthroughs — though we can all think of the many ways in which IT R&D is key here:

Since predicting the probability, timing and magnitude of breakthroughs is likely to be impossible we assumed breakthroughs as fact and modeled their impact. We did not examine the likelihood of breakthroughs occurring, the exact improvements required to achieve our modeled breakthrough levels, the most effective policy drivers of innovation, the cost of achieving these breakthroughs, or which technologies should be prioritized over others. These are critical questions which demand their own investigation.

And while the numbers are both ambitious and debatable, as Matt Hourihan of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) put it:

But the efficacy of these assumptions are not the point of the report, nor does it mean the report doesn’t have value: it makes clear the enormous upside, economically and environmentally, of spurring breakthrough clean technologies — so long as we get both the technology and the policy right. It’s not a question of either/or. Any efforts to mitigate emissions that don’t seek to accelerate energy innovation will likely end in failure, and miss an economic opportunity. Under Google’s model, neither the application of a $30 per ton carbon price nor a more robust set of policies and mandates to drive cleantech adoption reduced emissions as effectively on their own as when they were coupled with breakthrough innovations to drive cost declines.

In other words, emission reductions alone, without new ways to create or save energy, limit economic growth. To effectively address our energy problems, we’re best off with both policy change and by encouraging high-tech innovation.

(Contributed by Max ChoEben Tisdale Fellow, CRA)
Google:  Green Tech Innovation as a Way Forward

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