What happened to Google’s antinuclear stance?

« So, from our perspective we look at this and it goes: look guys, here is what we want to do. We want to focus on three technologies, renewable, right, obviously, things we’ll have forever, and, by the way, we are not running out of it! The Sun’s not going away any time soon. You get the idea. What’s interesting by the vision: you look at those and when you compare them for example to nuclear, which in our model we simply assume as relatively constant, the nuclear cost, just on a cost basis, doesn’t cost out! And I’m ignoring the strategic questions, and the political arguments, and so forth. It’s just cheaper to invest. It’s funny because I was listening to one of these radio shows where he said: ‘well, these people say we should use wind and solar instead of nuclear!’… Yes! (Laughs) Because they’re cheaper! OK, it’s like money. (Laughs) OK, it’s like real simple. »

– Eric Schmidt, Where Would Google Drill?,
The Commonwealth Club of California,
San Francisco, October 1st, 2008.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster (the nuclear plant exploded at 01:23 on April 26th, 1986) and what do we see on Google’s front page, often dedicated to the celebration of noble causes? We see beautiful and rare (and extinct?) bird species, joyfully chirping! Oh yes, we nearly forgot this: let’s celebrate today the 226th birthday of our dear Jean-Jacques Audubon, the delicate painter, the unsung poet of the magnificence of our feathered friends!

This is… cute? But what happened to Google’s antinuclear stance, as clearly defined in 2008 by Eric Schmidt himself, then CEO of one of the most powerful high-tech companies in the world? His point was straightforward: nuclear power is rare and expensive, compared to abundant renewable energies. Who would seriously invest in this technology? And which insurance company would be foolish enough to cover the damages of a nuclear accident? (The cost of the Chernobyl disaster is estimated around 235G$.)

Answers to both questions are very simple: nuclear energy is a highly-subsidized industry, backed by governments themselves. And in case of trouble, citizens will pay the bill. It is very simple, isn’t it?