Don't you just hate it when people don't take your brilliant advice? I've been telling people for years that we need a new publication dedicated to covering technology entrepreneurs, but does anybody listen? Geez...
Larry Page hates it too. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting last February, Page called for the scientists present to focus some of their creative energy on creating clean energy. Apparently, not enough of them have taken his advice.
So now he's dedicating some of Google's resources to the task. In his blog post he starts out by noting that "Clean and affordable energy is a growing need for our company."
Perhaps he's trying to justify why Google is getting into such an unrelated field with that opening. In a Fortune article a couple days ago, Brent Schlender already asked, "Is Google Spinning Out Of Control?"
And that opinion was based just on "two extraordinarily ambitious strategic gambits" -- OpenSocial, an attempt to create an open platform for social networks and Google's new cell phone initiative to create an open platform for phones. Imagine what Schlender thinks of this latest initiative.
Google, says Schlender, has no experience in creating platforms. Well, unless you consider things like Google Maps a platform with all the mashups being created.
But he's right, these efforts do take Google well beyond its traditional expertise. These are attempts to do something good and useful for the world.
The key phrase in Page's blog is, "we're seeking to accelerate the pace at which clean energy technologies are developing." Google is trying to be a catalyst for others to take up the challenge. It's the same with Google's attempts to push municipal wi-fi into the world. Many others have taken up that gauntlet, even as Google's experiment in San Francisco failed.
StreetInsider.com quotes Dr. Larry Brilliant, Executive Director of Google.org: "by funding research on promising technologies, investing in promising new companies, and doing a lot of R&D ourselves, we may help spark a green electricity revolution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than coal."
If Google can't pull these deals off, maybe it can inspire others to, perhaps even helping to fund them. Google put some money behind Meraki Networks, which is getting volunteers or entrepreneurs to share their own broadband networks with cheap wi-fi devices, even inspiring the founders to start the company in the first place.
Coincidentally, after the Google/Earthlink attempt to offer San Francisco a free wi-fi system went into apparently permanent limbo, Meraki offered to give away routers to SF residents to spread a little free wi-fi love there.
As an inspirational force, I say, more power to Google.