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Just so everyone's clear, the reason that Google (along with Chevron, Wells Fargo, and a number of other big companies with large tax liabilities) are investing in renewable energy is to take advantage of the massive tax credits that come with the investment. There simply aren't that many companies with tax liabilities large enough to make investments in tax equity like this attractive, and Google is one of them.

So, good for Google. It makes a lot of sense for them to do this and I'm glad to see it happening.

Thank goodness for beneficial tax policies that encourage investment in future technologies!

How do we know whether or not a technology is a "future technology" if it is unprofitable without tax credits? Would car companies have spent millions of engineering hours on hydrogen vehicles if the government didn't pay them to do so in the 00's? Maybe it would have been better for mankind if they didn't.

Broad incentives are better than targeted incentives. The government is bad at picking future technologies. See ethanol.

> How do we know whether or not a technology is a "future technology" if it is unprofitable without tax credits?

Is profitability the only factor that makes a technology worth pursing in "the future"?

No, people have many reasons for pursuing technology. The question is whether the government should encourage people to pour money into unprofitable forms of energy.

I assume he means economic profitability, in the which case factors such as the utility of future generations is included.

In a world we(or at least I) live in, yes.

Not that I have any say over it though...

1) Renewable energy is a pretty broad target.

2) Countering ethanol - see the internet.

The goverment invented ARPANET in 1969.

IBM and ATT had major labs and were vitally interested in computers talking to one another as early as the late 1950s and early 1960s. Bell Labs invented UNIX in 1969; it made the internet possible. IBM invented FORTRAN and hard drives in 1956. Bell transmitted packet data over lines in 1958. Texas Instruments invented integrated circuits in 1958. In 1961 Leonard Kleinrock published a paper on packet switching networks. Bell Labs made the first modem in 1961. Digital Equipment Corporation produced the first minicomputer in 1964. In 1965 time sharing at MIT and mail command started. Intel began in 1968. The year 1966 saw the first use of fiber optics to carry telephone signals.

Yes, the RAND corporation came up with a design for a decentralized network that could continue to communicate in case of a nuclear attack. However, they did not invent all of the technology that makes the internet possible.

Also, this is an example of the broken window fallacy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

We can't see what type of internet the market would have made because the resources taken out of private market and given to the defense department.

Except wind energy has no practical future promise.

I disagree with the sentiment. Wind energy has been enormously beneficial at pumping water for a few millenia now.

Well, taxes are surely one big reason, but not the only reason. Bloomberg invests in renewable energy because it is the personal view of the majority shareholder that we should be doing it.[1] We get 58% of our energy from wind power and offset an additional 25% by purchasing GREEN-E certified biomass certificates (RECs).

[1]: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-01/a-vote-for-a-presid...

NB: buying green power and / or RECs is _very_ different from investing directly into a renewable energy development.

I would agree with your larger point that there are other (non-financial) sources of return to these investments.

Yes, I agree.. not to say that there isn't direct investment as well, but at a much smaller scale. We built solar farms to power our offices in NJ (50% @ 1.8MW[1]) and San Francisco, but those direct investments only account for 1% of worldwide power usage.

[1]: http://blog.bloomberg.com/2012-03-14/bloombergs-princeton-of...

Is that actually true? Seems like growth-focused tech companies with comparatively low earnings per revenue would have low tax liabilities, especially when compared to stable industries like oil and banking.

For the nine months ending 2012-09-30, they paid USD 1.6bn in cash in taxes. (from Google Finance.)

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