Google (GOOG) just announced a goal of developing renewable energy that is cheaper than coal. No market research required, everyone wants this one. What does Google bring to the table? Lots of venture capital style cash.
But there are other potential investors who can bring substantial capital to the table. Are we going to see bidding wars on unproven technologies? Great wads of cash do not always equal success.
When it comes to assessing internet technologies, Google certainly has something to offer. When it comes to assessing energy technologies they do not have any natural advantages over other players. In part, they are motivated by the desire to be greener, which is nice. They are also motivated by the whopping energy bills they are looking at as a result of the build out of their server farms, which is more than understandable.
Electricity utilities also have initiatives to transmit electronic and internet traffic on their own wires which of course terminate at every electrical outlet in the developed world. Hmmm.
Google says that they anticipate committing hundreds of millions of dollars into this initiative. Will they report results broken out separately from their other operations so that investors may have transparency?
Laudable goals both socially and economically. But will this turn out to be a major distraction for management? There is just too much of a 'we can do anything' attitude in this one.