Archive for the ‘Clean Technology’ Category

Laurel Krause, MendoCoastCurrent, September 10, 2011 ~ 9/10/11

PRESIDENT OBAMA promised on October 27, 2007: “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the FIRST THING I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.”

On Peace

President Obama has been in office for 32 months and there are still 45,000 troops in Iraq and 100,000+ troops in Afghanistan.

When we voted for Obama we expected our future President to keep his word, not involve us in FOUR MORE WARS!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You’re ON NOTICE ~ Next election Americans will come out in great numbers to vote for a peace-focused presidential candidate that will keep his word.

On Commercial-scale Renewable Energy

We felt validated that we voted for Obama when early in his presidency our President pledged to begin to develop safe, sustainable and renewable energy. We saw it as an excellent way to put the American workforce ‘back to work’ and begin to build a renewable energy future for America. Since then NOT ONE significant renewable or sustainable energy project has been created nor backed by the federal government. If there is one, please name it! The validation we felt back then has expired long ago into distrust and disrespect.

On the BP Gulf Oil Leak

Mostly based on watching our President minimize and shield his eyes (along with Energy Sec Chu) as the BP Oil Leak continues to leak and spew oil into the Gulf of Mexico, to this day. We are beyond disappointed that no significant or innovative remedial (as in clean up) action has been taken in the Gulf or poisoned coastal areas.

On Fukushima & Nuclear Reactors

Then we were shocked when our President in his address to the nation, moments after Fukushima went into melt-through in March 2011, disbelieving our President’s pledge of allegiance to more, new nuclear development in America. Except for President Obama’s corporate backers, the rest of us DO NOT WANT MORE NUCLEAR ENERGY REACTORS in the U.S. We demand our President begin to close down all U.S. nuclear reactors now, also a position very far from our President’s nuclear energy corporate BFF’s.



STEP 1) Immediately BRING ALL TROOPS HOME to be re-deployed in cleaning up the affected areas, as in making whole again, at the on-going BP Oil Leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

STEP 1-A ~ Fire & replace Energy Secretary Chu with a qualified, earth-friendly, safe renewable energy visionary.

STEP 2) Segment a significant portion of your new Jobs Bill towards sustainable and renewable energy R&D to create a VISION & PLAN FOR AMERICA to become the world leader in these new, safe technologies.

STEP 2-A ~ Consider and fund Mendocino Energy, a fast-tracked commercial-scale renewal/sustainable energy thinktank to get started TODAY. Learn more about Mendocino Energy ~ http://bit.ly/t7ov1

Mr President, let us live in peace on a healthy planet.

JOIN US, JOIN IN at the Peaceful Party: http://on.fb.me/hBvNE3

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MendoCoastCurrent, March 14, 2011

Dear President Obama,

Continuing to hear comments that you, your administration and your cabinet members consider nuclear power as a clean, renewable solution is most alarming.

Mr. President, let’s consider the nuclear event occurring in Japan right now and learn the simple truth that any safe renewable energy portfolio DOES NOT include nuclear energy.

The ramifications of the current Japanese nuclear trauma will be felt worldwide as will the fall-out, for months and possibly years to come.

Mr. President, I strongly encourage your team to change course, hit the ground running in alternative, renewable and sustainable energy r&d right now.

Here’s a solution that may be started TODAY ~ http://bit.ly/t7ov1

I call it Mendocino Energy and am not attached to the name, yet very passionate about this important safe, renewable energy development concept. Time has come for us to get rolling!

Mendocino Energy ~ At this core energy technology incubator, energy policy is created as renewable energy technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing, refinement and implementation.

The Vision

Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco, Silicon Valley. On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, utilizing a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site to innovate in best practices, cost-efficient, safe renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag/algae, smart grid and grid technologies, et al.

The process is collaborative in creating, identifying and engineering optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions with acumen.

Start-ups, utility companies, universities (e.g. Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford), EPRI, the federal government (FERC, DOE, DOI) and the world’s greatest minds gathering at this fast-tracked, unique coming-together of a green work force and the U.S. government, creating responsible, safe renewable energy technologies to quickly identify best commercialization candidates and build-outs.

The campus is quickly constructed on healthy areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre industry created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is underway.

Determining best sitings for projects in solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, algae farming, bioremediation; taking the important first steps towards establishing U.S. leadership in renewable energy and the global green economy.

With deep concern & hope,

Laurel Krause

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SCOTT DUKE HARRIS and MATT NAUMAN, San Jose Mercury News, January 27, 2009

obama-hope2As President Barack Obama and Congress hammer out an economic stimulus package expected to be in the $825 billion range, Silicon Valley clean tech leaders are heartened by an energy agenda that starts with an emphasis on “smart grid” technologies that encourage energy conservation.That agenda will add jobs and bring dollars to several Silicon Valley companies, they say, especially those making smart grid components, solar panels, electric cars and green building materials.

It’s “a good start,” said venture capitalist Pascal Levensohn, whose portfolio includes clean tech investments. “There is a lot of optimism.”

Details of the new stimulus package are still being worked out, but talks suggest that about $60 billion will be applied toward promoting clean, efficient “energy independence” and creating jobs in the process.

Billions of dollars are expected to be applied to weatherizing government buildings, schools and homes. Billions more would go to loans and grants to promote renewable energy such as solar and wind. And still more billions would be spent upgrading the infrastructure of America’s power grids.

Bringing the power grid into the Internet age is a priority. The bill presented by House Democrats includes $11 billion to boost the IQ of electrical grids by employing sensors to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. An alternative bill introduced in the Senate would raise that sum to $16 billion.

“We’ve been swimming upstream,” said Peter Sharer, chief executive of Agilewaves, a Menlo Park maker of a product that monitors electricity, gas and water use in homes and businesses. “We’re finally swimming with the current. That’s what federal support means to us.” 

While initiatives like solar power have cosmic cachet, upgrading the power infrastructure is the logical place to start, some clean tech investors say. “We know that efficiency is the low-hanging fruit,” explained Levensohn, of Levensohn Venture Partners in San Francisco. 

America’s aging power grids now waste 10 to 30 percent of electricity from the generator to the plug, industry experts say. Foundation Capital partner Steve Vassallo likened the grid to a leaky bucket. Instead of simply putting more energy into the system, “the first thing you should do is fix the bucket,” he said.

The weaknesses in California’s energy grid and marketplace were starkly exposed in 2000 and 2001. Then, as Californians were hit by brownouts and ballooning electricity bills, President George W. Bush refused to support temporary price caps and blamed the energy crisis on environmental rules and a shortage of power plants. Only later was it discovered that energy dealers including Enron, a major supporter of Bush and adviser on Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, were gaming California’s dysfunctional energy market, profiteering with schemes nicknamed “Death Star” and “Get Shorty.” Enron would later implode from its own culture of corruption.

The energy crisis inspired Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to seek solutions. Menlo Park’s Foundation started investing in clean tech in 2002, including smart grid companies Silver Spring Networks, based in Redwood City; eMeter, based in San Mateo; and EnerNOC, based in Boston.

The “smart grid” approach employs real-time monitoring and sensors to minimize waste and help identify parts of the grid that are leaking energy and need repairs. In an age of Internet connectivity, utilities typically remain unaware of outages until consumers call with problems, Vassallo said, and still rely on human meter readers walking door-to-door to check energy use “30 days in arrears.”

Pacific Gas & Electric plans to spend more than $2 billion to install 10.3 million smart electric and gas meters. Installations started in Bakersfield in late 2006, and are scheduled to reach the Bay Area by the end of this year.

This digital, wireless device will allow PG&E to get quicker notification of power outages, and also allow it to cut or reduce power during periods of high demand, if a customer agrees. Eventually, PG&E says, smart meters will allow it to better tap into energy that is put into the grid from solar panels installed on homes and businesses.

While California’s grid is “getting smarter,” Vassallo said, most states are served by power grids without the benefit of any information technology and, unlike California, have pricing structures that do not encourage conservation.

Valley companies are keenly scrutinizing the potentially devilish details. SunPower, the San Jose maker of solar modules, is pleased with the “wide, broad, deep effort” to promote cleaner energy as part of the stimulus, said Julie Blunden, a vice president. But she doesn’t think the effort will generate jobs until the second half of 2009.

SunPower, Blunden said, is ready to ramp up work in areas where it has expertise, such as putting solar systems on government buildings, as well as “beefing up areas where we don’t have strong, established channels.”

Weatherizing buildings and promoting new “green” development might benefit companies such as Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale maker of energy-saving building materials, such as heavily insulated windows and greener drywall.

Kevin Surace, the company’s chief executive, sees a lucrative market — 1 million to 2 million homes a year plus tens of thousands of government buildings. His company just bought two window factories, and Surace expects to grow his head count from 150 to 250 or 300 by year’s end.

Project Frog, a San Francisco company that builds green school buildings, is also encouraged. “We’re ready to help schools make use of these funds,” said Adam Tibbs, the company’s president.

Government support may help stimulate more private-sector investments in energy, says Agilewaves’ Sharer and other clean tech executives. But Lyndon Rive, chief executive of Solar City, which was expanding rapidly until the credit crunch hit, said the most important thing for clean tech is for financing to flow again.

“We want to get banks back into buying solar, wind and other renewable” energy assets, Rive said.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 15, 2008

Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton today launched the Business, Environment and Social Responsibility (BESR) Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business, offering “Sustainability Meets Entrepreneurship,” a new Friday forum series designed to provide UW students and members of the community access to experts on clean technology and alternative energy.

“This new program will give bright entrepreneurs both the vision and tools they need to develop innovative strategies to address the opportunities of developing a green economy,” said Lawton. “Local economic growth and job creation begins with sustainable development.”

The forum series was motivated and inspired by Lawton’s Green Economy Agenda, an agenda to empower smart individual and institutional action related to energy, water and climate change while strengthening Wisconsin’s competitive position in a global economy

“I am approached again and again by people wanting to start up a clean tech or alternative energy business,” said Lawton. “Now they can learn from green business experts who will share their experience – stories of the challenges they’ve met, trends they see and the successes they’ve realized in this growing sector. We want Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs poised to take advantage of the opportunities that can come with a new president who is committed to driving green-collar jobs creation.”

The first community forum is scheduled for Friday, January 30 at noon. UW-Madison professors Tom Eggert and Xuejun Pan are providing an overview on cleantech and alternative energy companies, on-going research, and future opportunities. The forum will be held in 5120 Grainger Hall on the UW-Madison campus. Lunch will be provided.

Subsequent forums will be held on the following Fridays: February 13, February 27, March 13, March 27 (Lt. Governor Lawton), and April 17. Interested individuals will need to register for each of these forums separately at the above internet address.

The BESR forum is part of the Wiscontrepreneur Initiative, made possible in part by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and administered by the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations. Additional support is provided by the MGE Foundation.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 17, 2009

Here’s the post from MendoCoastCurrent in the Citizen’s Briefing Book at President-elect Barack Obama’s change.gov site:

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force

Immediately establish and staff a Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force chartered with exploring and fast-tracking the development, exploration and commercialization of environmentally-sensitive renewable energy solutions in solar, wind, wave, green-ag, et al.

At this ‘world-class incubator,’ federal energy policy development is created as cutting-edge technologies and science move swiftly from white boards and white papers to testing to refinement and implementation.


If you wish to support this, please vote up this post at :

Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.


Mendocino Energy:

Renewable energy incubator and campus on the Mendocino coast exploring nascent and organic technology solutions in wind, wave, solar, green-ag, bioremediation and coastal energy, located on the 400+ acre waterfront G-P Mill site.

Mendocino Energy may be a Campus in Obama’s Renewable Energy Development (RED) federal task force.


Mendocino Energy is located on the Mendocino coast, three plus hours north of San Francisco/Silicon Valley.  On the waterfront of Fort Bragg, a portion of the now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site shall be used for exploring best practices, cost-efficient, environmentally-sensitive renewable and sustainable energy development – wind, wave, solar, bioremediation, green-ag, among many others. The end goal is to identify and engineer optimum, commercial-scale, sustainable, renewable energy solutions.

Start-ups, universities (e.g., Stanford’s newly-funded energy institute), the federal government (RED) and the world’s greatest minds working together to create, collaborate, compete and participate in this fast-tracked exploration.

The campus is quickly constructed of green, temp-portable structures (also a green technology) on the healthiest areas of the Mill Site as in the past, this waterfront, 400+ acre created contaminated areas where mushroom bioremediation is currently being tested (one more sustainable technology requiring exploration). So, readying the site and determining best sites for solar thermal, wind turbines and mills, wave energy, etc.

To learn more about these technologies, especially wave energy, RSS MendoCoastCurrent.

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MendoCoastCurrent, January 8, 2009

obama-hope1Key President-elect Barack Obama renewable energy quotes from his January 8, 2009 speech to the U.S. Congress and citizens, on his top economic priorities as he takes office.

“. . .the first question that each of us asks isn’t ‘what’s good for me?’ but ‘what’s good for the country my children will inherit?”

On creating new jobs and investing in America’s future:

“This plan must begin today. A plan I’m confident will save and create at least three million jobs over the next few years.”

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Program:

“It’s not just a public works program. It’s a plan that recognizes both the paradox and promise of the moment. The fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work, even as all around the country there’s so much work to be done and that’s why we’ll invest in priorities like energy and education, healthcare and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century. That’s why the overwhelming majority of the jobs created will be in the private sector while our plan will save public sector jobs . . .”

“To finally spark the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills.”

“In the process, we will put Americans to work in jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced. Jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing fuel efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”

“The time has come to build a 21st century economy in which hard work and responsibility are once again rewarded.”

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JOHN M. BRODER, The New York Times, December 18, 2008

17transition2-6001President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Interior Department, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado, will inherit an agency demoralized by years of scandal, political interference and mismanagement.

He must deal with the sharp tension between those who seek to exploit public lands for energy, minerals and recreation and those who want to preserve the lands. He will be expected to restore scientific integrity to a department where it has repeatedly been compromised. He will be responsible for ending the department’s coziness with the industries it regulates. And he will have to work hard to overcome skepticism among many environmentalists about his views on resource and wildlife issues.

One senior Interior Department executive described the job Mr. Salazar has been chosen for as “the booby prize of the Cabinet.”

As Mr. Obama introduced Mr. Salazar and Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor tapped to be secretary of agriculture, at a press conference Wednesday in Chicago, he said their responsibility would be to balance the protection of farms and public lands against the need to find new sources of energy.

“It’s time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that’s committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all our families,” Mr. Obama said. “That means ensuring that even as we are promoting development where it makes sense, we are also fulfilling our obligation to protect our national treasures.”

Mr. Salazar, wearing his customary ten-gallon hat and bolo tie, said that his job entails helping the nation address climate change through a “moon shot” on energy independence. But that would include not just the development of “green” energy sources like wind power, but also the continued domestic development of coal, oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases when they are burned.

Environmental advocates offered mixed reviews of Mr. Salazar, 53, a first-term Democratic senator who served as head of Colorado’s natural resources department and as the state’s attorney general. Mr. Salazar was not the first choice of environmentalists, who openly pushed the appointment of Representative Raul Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, who has a strong record as a conservationist.

Oil and mining interests praised Mr. Salazar’s performance as a state official and as a senator, saying that he was not doctrinaire about the use of public lands. “Nothing in his record suggests he’s an ideologue,” said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association. “Here’s a man who understands the issues, is open-minded and can see at least two sides of an issue.”

Mr. Popovich noted approvingly that Mr. Salazar had tried to engineer a deal in the Senate allowing mining companies and others to reclaim abandoned mines without fear of lawsuits. (The legislation is pending.) He has also supported robust research on technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants, something the coal industry favors.

He also backed a compromise that would let oil companies drill for natural gas in limited parts of the Roan Plateau in northwestern Colorado, a plan that most environmental advocates opposed.

Mr. Salazar is a fifth-generation Coloradan who grew up on a ranch near the New Mexico border. He has been a farmer, lawyer and small-business man as well as a public servant.

Pam Kiely, program director at Environment Colorado, said Mr. Salazar had been a champion of wilderness protection and of strong water quality laws, and had raised questions about the environmental costs of oil shale development, a subject of great controversy in the Mountain West. She said he had not spoken out forcefully against oil and gas development in millions of acres of national forests and roadless areas.

“We hope he continues to play a role in ensuring that, as we develop our mineral rights in these incredibly sensitive areas, we require industry to put in place safeguards that protect our health, environment, water and air quality,” Ms. Kiely said.

Marc Smith, executive director of the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, said in a statement that Mr. Salazar understood that energy security can be achieved only by making use of all domestic energy sources, including those found on and under public lands.

“We are pleased that the president-elect has chosen someone who understands that there is a direct connection between federal lands and access to affordable, clean natural gas,” Mr. Smith said.

While industry officials praised his moderation, Mr. Salazar drew harsh criticism from some environmentalists.

“He is a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agriculture in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks endangered species and habitat issues. “He is very unlikely to bring significant change to the scandal-plagued Department of Interior. It’s a very disappointing choice for a presidency which promised visionary change.”

Daniel R. Patterson, formerly an official of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and now southwest regional director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group, said that Mr. Salazar has justifiably become the most controversial of Mr. Obama’s cabinet appointees.

“Salazar has a disturbingly weak conservation record, particularly on energy development, global warming, endangered wildlife and protecting scientific integrity,” said Mr. Patterson, who was elected last month to the Arizona House of Representatives from Tucson and who supports fellow Arizonan Mr. Grijalva for the Interior job. “It’s no surprise oil and gas, mining, agribusiness and other polluting industries that have dominated Interior are supporting rancher Salazar — he’s their friend.”

Even as Mr. Salazar navigates the department’s tricky political cross-currents, he must also deal with significant internal management challenges. Members of Congress and outside groups are calling for review of dozens of decisions made under the Bush administration on endangered species and oil and gas leasing. The senior management ranks of the department have been depleted by departures of demoralized career employees.

And the agency’s computer systems are badly in need of repair, after millions of dollars have been spent on systems that have not worked, according to several internal reports.

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MARTIN LAMONICA, CNET, November 5, 2008

Energy and environmental policy is poised for dramatic change under an Obama administration even with a slumping economy.

With the incoming administration and Congress, renewable energy advocates and environmentalists said they anticipate a comprehensive national energy plan focused on fostering clean-energy technologies.

“The election is over. Now the hard work begins,” wrote Dan Farber, a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley and a member of the lobbying group Cleantech & Green Business for Obama. “Change is on the way.”

Obama’s energy plan, detailed fully earlier this year, is ambitious. It calls for a $150 billion investment in clean technologies over 10 years, aggressive targets for greenhouse emission reductions, and programs to promote energy efficiency, low-carbon biofuels, and renewable energies.

But a troubled economy–among other barriers–means that bold, new energy legislation, notably caps on greenhouse gas emissions, is unlikely to pass in the first years of an Obama administration, according to experts.

Instead, the Obama presidency is expected to first push for smaller yet significant measures, such as efficiency and renewable energy mandates, and then lay the groundwork for far-reaching climate initiatives, they said.

“One of the biggest setbacks is trying to find the money to pay for all of this. This isn’t free,” said David Kurzman, managing director of Kurzman CleanTech Research. “Reality will set in and trying to find money…is really going to temper the possibilities over the next 12 months.”

Winners and losers
Cleantech company executives note that during the campaign, Obama articulated his belief that environmental protection and economic development can be closely related. During Obama’s acceptance speech Tuesday night, his reference to “new energy to harness and new jobs to be created” could be read in two ways–a call for political involvement or for alternative-energy sources.

In an interview with Time magazine in October 2008, he said, “From a purely economic perspective, finding the new driver of our economy is going to be critical. There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy.”

Cleantech professionals expect that energy and the environment, which were hot-button issues during the campaign, to continue to command the attention of politicians and the electorate. And the combination of a Democratic-controlled Congress and Obama administration means that government stimulus spending targeted at the energy business is a strong possibility.

“There’s a growing sense that investing in infrastructure, even if it means more deficit spending, is a good thing because it will help economic growth in the short and long term,” said Ethan Zindler of research firm New Energy Finance. “And green energy has come to be regarded as a 21st-century infrastructure play.”

Some technologies stand to benefit more than others if Obama’s administration is successful in implementing its proposals.

Renewable energies. Obama has called for a national renewable portfolio standard to mandate that utilities get 10% of electricity from renewable sources–wind, solar, and geothermal–by 2012, and 25% by 2025. “That’s the backbone the country needs to invest in,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industry Association.

Although more than half the states already have renewable portfolio standards, many southern states have balked at national standards because they say they do not have sufficient renewable energy resources.

In this case, having an activist federal government, as Obama’s proposals suggest, may meet resistance from the states because electric utilities are regulated by a mix state and federal agencies. “It’s not just a question of money. It’s also a question of governance and public policy,” said Jim Owen, a representative for the Edison Electrical Institute.

In the recently passed financial bailout package, solar energy received an eight-year extension of federal tax credits, while wind received only a one-year extension. The election increases the chances that wind energy will be extended further.

Efficiency and smart grid technology. Obama’s plan calls for a power grid modernization program and stricter building efficiency codes in federal buildings. That means efficiency products such as demand response, advanced metering and sensors to monitor usage should further benefit from government incentives, said Kurzman.

A federal initiative to establish interconnection standards and bulk up interstate transmission lines would make power generation of all kinds more efficient and allow utilities to use more renewable sources. “A 50-state role to transmission just doesn’t get the job done. You need a federal planning and facilitation,” said Rob Church, vice president of research and industry analysis at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Biofuels. Hailing from the corn-producing state of Illinois, Obama is expected to continue supporting ethanol. However, Brooke Coleman, executive director of the New Fuels Alliance, noted that Obama appears to understand that the biofuels industry needs to transition to nonfood feedstocks, such as wood chips or algae, in order to be sustainable.

Coleman said that strong federal policies are required for biofuels to crack into the fossil fuel industry.

“There is not a free market in the fuel sector. There’s no real competition in the wholesale supply chain–it’s completely owned by oil,” Coleman said. “You have to be pretty heavy-handed to fundamentally correct this market.”

Auto. Obama has called for increasing fuel efficiency, tax credits for plug-in hybrid cars, and loan guarantees so that automakers can “retool.”

But struggling auto makers–said to be running dangerously low on cash–will need government aid in the coming months to prevent larger harm to the economy, argued David Cole, the chairman for the Center for Automotive Research. For that reason, he expects government leaders of all kinds to be supportive.

“Politically, the issue here is pretty stark and cost of keeping the auto industry in game is whole lot less than of a major failure,” Cole said.

Fossil fuels and nuclear. During the campaign, Obama said he would allow increased domestic oil and gas drilling as well as investments in so-called clean coal technology where carbon emissions are stored underground. Companies that have coal gasification technologies stand to benefit because they are cleaner source of electricity, said Kurzman.

In the campaign, Obama voiced caution on storing nuclear waste. But during the second presidential debate, Obama said he backs nuclear power “as one component of our overall energy mix.”

Skip Bowman, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said Tuesday he expects the new Congress and administration to continue its support of nuclear because it addresses energy and climate change.

Counting carbon
Longer term, the broadest policy change on energy and environment will be climate-change regulations. Obama has called for an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 through a federal cap and trade system. Pollution rights would be auctioned, at least partially, which would create a fund for clean technology programs.

Large polluters, like chemical companies and utilities that rely heavily on coal, are the ones that will be most affected. But given that there is stronger political will to tackle energy security than climate change, policies to promote domestic energy production and efficiency are likely to take precedence over cap and trade, said New Energy Finance’s Zindler.

Still, the new administration can accomplish a great deal on renewable energy without having to pass multibillion-dollar legislation, said Scott Sklar, a renewable energy lobbyist and president of the Stella Group. Using only the federal government’s purchasing power to integrate green building technologies and addressing grid interconnection issues, for example, can be done without passing laws.

“Existing programs can be tweaked to accommodate the new vision,” Sklar said. “Depending on how you structure things, you could have a quick and profound impact on new technologies.”

New Fuel Alliance’s Coleman said that the biggest danger to the Obama administration and new Congress is not “overplaying their hand” and pushing more extreme environmental policies.

“I firmly believe that the linchpin to this entire game is allowing agriculture to play a role in diversifying our energy, whether it be wind, solar, using rural areas for geothermal or wind corridors,” he said. “More extreme positions like trying to end coal result in failure and missed opportunities.”

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MATT NAUMAN, San Jose Mercury News, October 1, 2008

Venture capital investors continue to look beyond the current financial crisis and see clean technology innovations as a prime place for their money. The segment posted another record period in the third quarter of 2008, with a total of $2.6 billion worth of investments globally.

In fact, a report to be released today by the Cleantech Group reveals that investments in companies working in solar, the smart electrical grid, algae for fuel and other categories so far this year already have topped all of what was invested in 2007. That’s $6.6 billion in the first nine months of 2008 compared with $6 billion in all of 2007.

Nearly $419 million in the third quarter (and more than $1 billion so far in 2008) went to companies based in Silicon Valley, the research and financial services company said.

“Clean-tech venture investing has continued to show strong growth despite the unprecedented turmoil in the credit markets,” Michael Goguen, managing partner of Sequoia Capital, said in a statement. Goguen is a member of the Cleantech Group advisory board.

Of the $2.6 billion invested in 158 companies during the quarter, $1.1 billion of it went to California companies. Of the top investors ranked by number of deals, local entities Google.org, Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, ranked in the top five.

The third quarter’s biggest deal of $200 million was invested in Solopower, a thin-film photovoltaic solar company in San Jose. The group expects fourth-quarter investments to fall, due to the various economic headwinds, but didn’t offer a specific forecast.

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MendoCoastCurrent, September 2008

Fareed Zakaria: Your new book (Hot, Flat and Crowded) is about two things, the climate crisis and also about an American crisis. Why do you link the two?

Thomas Friedman: You’re absolutely right–it is about two things. The book says, America has a problem and the world has a problem. The world’s problem is that it’s getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence–that perfect storm–is driving a lot of negative trends. America’s problem is that we’ve lost our way–we’ve lost our groove as a country. And the basic argument of the book is that we can solve our problem by taking the lead in solving the world’s problem.

Zakaria: Explain what you mean by “hot, flat and crowded.”

Friedman: There is a convergence of basically three large forces: one is global warming, which has been going on at a very slow pace since the industrial revolution; the second–what I call the flattening of the world–is a metaphor for the rise of middle-class citizens, from China to India to Brazil to Russia to Eastern Europe, who are beginning to consume like Americans. That’s a blessing in so many ways–it’s a blessing for global stability and for global growth. But it has enormous resource complications, if all these people–whom you’ve written about in your book, The Post American World–begin to consume like Americans. And lastly, global population growth simply refers to the steady growth of population in general, but at the same time the growth of more and more people able to live this middle-class lifestyle. Between now and 2020, the world’s going to add another billion people. And their resource demands–at every level–are going to be enormous. I tell the story in the book how, if we give each one of the next billion people on the planet just one sixty-watt incandescent light bulb, what it will mean: the answer is that it will require about 20 new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants. That’s so they can each turn on just one light bulb!

Zakaria: In my book I talk about the “rise of the rest” and about the reality of how this rise of new powerful economic nations is completely changing the way the world works. Most everyone’s efforts have been devoted to Kyoto-like solutions, with the idea of getting western countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But I grew to realize that the West was a sideshow. India and China will build hundreds of coal-fire power plants in the next ten years and the combined carbon dioxide emissions of those new plants alone are five times larger than the savings mandated by the Kyoto accords. What do you do with the Indias and Chinas of the world?

Friedman: I think there are two approaches. There has to be more understanding of the basic unfairness they feel. They feel like we sat down, had the hors d’oeuvres, ate the entrée, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, “Let’s split the bill.” So I understand the big sense of unfairness–they feel that now that they have a chance to grow and reach with large numbers a whole new standard of living, we’re basically telling them, “Your growth, and all the emissions it would add, is threatening the world’s climate.” At the same time, what I say to them–what I said to young Chinese most recently when I was just in China is this: Every time I come to China, young Chinese say to me, “Mr. Friedman, your country grew dirty for 150 years. Now it’s our turn.” And I say to them, “Yes, you’re absolutely right, it’s your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think we probably just need about five years to invent all the new clean power technologies you’re going to need as you choke to death, and we’re going to come and sell them to you. And we’re going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So please, take your time. If you want to give us a five-year lead in the next great global industry, I will take five. If you want to give us ten, that would be even better. In other words, I know this is unfair, but I am here to tell you that in a world that’s hot, flat and crowded, ET–energy technology–is going to be as big an industry as IT–information technology. Maybe even bigger. And who claims that industry–whose country and whose companies dominate that industry–I think is going to enjoy more national security, more economic security, more economic growth, a healthier population, and greater global respect, for that matter, as well. So you can sit back and say, it’s not fair that we have to compete in this new industry, that we should get to grow dirty for a while, or you can do what you did in telecommunications, and that is try to leap-frog us. And that’s really what I’m saying to them: this is a great economic opportunity. The game is still open. I want my country to win it–I’m not sure it will.

Zakaria: I’m struck by the point you make about energy technology. In my book I’m pretty optimistic about the United States. But the one area where I’m worried is actually ET. We do fantastically in biotech, we’re doing fantastically in nanotechnology. But none of these new technologies have the kind of system-wide effect that information technology did. Energy does. If you want to find the next technological revolution you need to find an industry that transforms everything you do. Biotechnology affects one critical aspect of your day-to-day life, health, but not all of it. But energy–the consumption of energy–affects every human activity in the modern world. Now, my fear is that, of all the industries in the future, that’s the one where we’re not ahead of the pack. Are we going to run second in this race?

Friedman: Well, I want to ask you that, Fareed. Why do you think we haven’t led this industry, which itself has huge technological implications? We have all the secret sauce, all the technological prowess, to lead this industry. Why do you think this is the one area–and it’s enormous, it’s actually going to dwarf all the others–where we haven’t been at the real cutting edge?

Zakaria: I think it’s not about our economic system but our political system. The rhetoric we hear is that the market should produce new energy technologies. But the problem is, the use of current forms of energy has an existing infrastructure with very powerful interests that has ensured that the government tilt the playing field in their favor, with subsidies, tax breaks, infrastructure spending, etc. This is one area where the Europeans have actually been very far-sighted and have pushed their economies toward the future.

Friedman: I would say that’s exactly right. It’s the Europeans–and the Japanese as well–who’ve done it, and they’ve done it because of the government mechanisms you’ve highlighted. They have understood that, if you just say the market alone will deliver the green revolution we need, basically three things happen and none of them are good: First, the market will drive up the price to whatever level demand dictates. We saw oil hit $145 a barrel, and when that happens the oil-producing countries capture most of the profit, 90% of it. So, some of the worst regimes in the world enjoy the biggest benefits from the market run-up. The second thing that happens is that the legacy oil, gas and coal companies get the other ten percent of the profit–so companies which have no interest in changing the system get stronger. And the third thing that happens is something that doesn’t happen: because you’re letting the market alone shape the prices, the market price can go up and down very quickly. So, those who want to invest in the alternatives really have to worry that if they make big investments, the market price for oil may fall back on them before their industry has had a chance to move down the learning curve and make renewable energies competitive with oil. Sure, the market can drive oil to $145 a barrel and at that level wind or solar may be very competitive. But what if two months later oil is at $110 a barrel? Because of that uncertainty, because we have not put a floor price under oil, you have the worst of all worlds, which is a high price of dirty fuels–what I call in the book fuels from hell–and low investment in new clean fuels, the fuels from heaven. Yes, some people are investing in the alternatives, but not as many or as much as you think, because they are worried that without a floor price for crude oil, their investments in the alternatives could get wiped out, which is exactly what happened in the 1980s after the first oil shock. That’s why you need the government to come in a reshape the market to make the cost of dirty fuels more expensive and subsidize the price of clean fuels until they can become competitive.

Right now we are doing just the opposite. Bush and Cheney may say the oil market is “free,” but that is a joke. It’s dominated by the world’s biggest cartel, OPEC, and America’s biggest energy companies, and they’ve shaped this market to serve their interests. Unless government comes in and reshapes it, we’re never going to launch this industry. Which is one of the reasons I argue in the book, “Change your leaders, not your light bulbs.” Because leaders write rules, rules shape markets, markets give you scale. Without scale, without being able to generate renewable energy at scale, you have nothing. All you have is a hobby. Everything we’ve doing up to now is pretty much a hobby. I like hobbies–I used to build model airplanes as a kid. But I don’t try to change the world as a hobby. And that’s basically what we’re trying to do.

Zakaria: But aren’t we in the midst of a green revolution? Every magazine I pick up tells me ten different ways to get more green. Hybrids are doing very well…

Friedman: What I always say to people when they say to me, “We’re having a green revolution” is, “Really? A green revolution! Have you ever been to a revolution where no one got hurt? That’s the green revolution.” In the green revolution, everyone’s a winner: BP’s green, Exxon’s green, GM’s green. When everyone’s a winner, that’s not a revolution–actually, that’s a party. We’re having a green party. And it’s very fun–you and I get invited to all the parties. But it has no connection whatsoever with a real revolution. You’ll know it’s a revolution when somebody gets hurt. And I don’t mean physically hurt. But the IT revolution was a real revolution. In the IT revolution, companies either had to change or die. So you’ll know the green revolution is happening when you see some bodies–corporate bodies–along the side of the road: companies that didn’t change and therefore died. Right now we don’t have that kind of market, that kind of change-or-die situation. Right now companies feel like they can just change their brand, not actually how they do business, and that will be enough to survive. That’s why we’re really having more of a green party than a green revolution.

Zakaria: One of your chapters is called “Outgreening Al-Qaeda.” Explain what you mean.

Friedman: The chapter is built around the green hawks in the Pentagon. They began with a marine general in Iraq, who basically cabled back one day and said, I need renewable power here. Things like solar energy. And the reaction of the Pentagon was, “Hey, general, you getting a little green out there? You’re not going sissy on us are you? Too much sun?” And he basically said, “No, don’t you guys get it? I have to provision outposts along the Syrian border. They are off the grid. They run on generators with diesel fuel. I have to truck diesel fuel from Kuwait to the Syrian border at $20 a gallon delivered cost. And that’s if my trucks don’t get blown up by insurgents along the way. If I had solar power, I wouldn’t have to truck all this fuel. I could—this is my term, not his—’outgreen’ Al-Qaeda.”

I argue in the chapter that “outgreening”–the ability to deploy, expand, innovate and grow renewable energy and clean power–is going to become one of the most important, if not the most important, sources of competitive advantage for a company, for a country, for a military. You’re going to know the cost of your fuel, it’s going to be so much more distributed, you will be so much more flexible, and–this is quite important, Fareed–you will also become so much more respected. I hear from law firms today: one law firm has a green transport initiative going for its staff–they only use hybrid cars–another one doesn’t. If some law student out of Harvard or Yale is weighing which law firm to join–many will say today: “I think I’ll go with the green one.” So there are a lot of ways in which you can outgreen your competition. I think “outgreening” is going to become an important verb in the dictionary – between “outfox” and “outmaneuver.”

Zakaria: Finally, let me ask you–in that context–what would this do to America’s image, if we were to take on this challenge? Do you really think it could change the way America is perceived in the world?

Friedman: I have no doubt about it, which is why I say in the book: I’m not against Kyoto; if you can get 190 countries all to agree on verifiable limits on their carbon, God bless you. But at the end of the day, I really still believe–and I know you do too–in America as a model. Your book stresses this–that even in a post-American world we still are looked at by others around the world as a role model. I firmly believe that if we go green–if we prove that we can become healthy, secure, respected, entrepreneurial, richer and more innovative by greening our economy, many more people will follow us voluntarily than would do so by compulsion of a treaty. Does that mean Russia and Iran will? No. Geopolitics won’t disappear. But I think it will, speaking broadly, definitely reposition us in the world with more people in more places. I look at making America the greenest country in the world like running the Olympic triathlon: if you make it to the Olympics and you run the race, maybe you win–but even if you don’t win, you’re fitter, healthier, more secure, more respected, more competitive and entrepreneurial, because you have given birth to a whole new clean power industry–which has to be the next great global industry–and put your economy on a much more sustainable footing. So to me, this is a win-win-win-win race, and that’s why I believe we, America, need to take the lead in it. In the Cold War we had the space race with Russia to see who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Today we need an earth race with Japan, Europe, China and India–to see who can be the first to invent the clean power technologies that will allow man to live safely and sustainably on earth.

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LINDSAY BECK, Reuters, June 13, 2007

Beijing – The United States hopes the world’s major economies will agree to remove trade barriers on clean energy technologies when they meet alongside the Group of Eight rich nations next month, a senior official said on Friday.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the World Bank had identified 43 technologies the United States and Europe proposed eliminating tariffs on.

“We think it is one of the most important and immediate signs of seriousness, because climate change is an urgent issue and we can see a very significant increase in the purchases of clean technologies if we eliminate the tariffs,” Connaughton told reporters in Beijing.

Solar panels and wind turbines are among the clean technologies the World Bank identified.

At the July meeting, host Japan is expected to urge G8 nations to agree on a target of slashing greenhouse gases in half by 2050.

The world’s major economies will also hold talks on climate change, aiming to push forward efforts to craft a framework by the end of 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

The U.N.-led talks in the Danish capital Copenhagen at the end of next year aim to agree on a successor to Kyoto that binds all nations to emissions curbs, depending on their circumstances.

The Kyoto pact, whose first phase expires at the end of 2012, binds only 37 industrialized nations to greenhouse gas cuts between 2008-12.

Connaughton said the World Bank has estimated the elimination of tariffs could result in a 14% increase in the global trade in clean energy technologies.

“That would be a very significant addition to the global uptake in technology transfer of clean technologies,” he said in Beijing, where he is meeting Chinese counterparts to discuss climate change and the G8 talks.

The G8 meeting would also aim to agree means to speed the reduction of greenhouse gases in key industrial sectors, as well as a financing and technology transfer package that would include a new clean technology fund.


Connaughton said an industry-by-industry approach to reducing greenhouse gases was “one of the most effective ways to engage internationally”, indicating U.S. support for a sectoral approach that Japan has strongly backed.

China’s emissions of carbon dioxide are widely considered to have overtaken the United States to make it the world’s top emitter of the main greenhouse gas that scientists say will warm the planet, causing seas to rise, glaciers to melt and trigger more intense storms.

Beijing believes rich countries are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases pumped in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution and they should do more to cut their output and transfer clean technology to poorer nations.

Despite differences, Connaughton said it was important to come to an agreement to ward off a trade sanction-based approach — something he said China and other major developing countries strongly object to.

A U.S. climate bill that was voted down in the Senate earlier this month would have added a carbon tariff on energy-intensive imports from countries such as China by 2020.

The Bush administration opposes such tariffs, but Connaughton said there were bipartisan forces in Congress that would like to see such sanctions.

“There is still a temptation to be protectionist and still a temptation to use trade sanctions as a tool, and that’s not a very productive way forward,” he said. “It’s an understandable tendency in the absence of strong commitments.”

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From RenewableEnergyWorld.com, April 15, 2008

A shortage of human capital, especially experienced business leaders, is presenting an obstacle to further growth of the growing clean energy industry, a new study finds. According to a joint report by New Energy Finance and recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles that looks into top-level recruitment in the clean energy sector, the issue is rising up the agenda in sectors such as wind and solar energy and biofuels, as investment in specialist businesses climbs.

The central finding of the research is that business leaders regard the recruitment issue facing the sector as a serious challenge. Some 37% of respondents said they saw the recruitment challenge as “very serious,” and a further 59% described it as “moderately serious,” with only 4% not concerned. Senior managers said that finding executives to drive the growth of their businesses was a key challenge for the next 12-18 months, at least comparable with other concerns such as the availability of projects and assets, capital availability and cost, and government and regulatory support.

The survey results showed that clean energy firms see three high level posts as particularly challenging to fill; Chief Technical Officer, Chief Executive Officer and Senior Project Managers. Overall, firms said that the shortage of senior management was even more serious than the shortage of technical skills and scientific talent.

Another conclusion was that firms are having to look hard outside their sector for top-level recruits. Just 32% of respondents said that most staff came with significant experience in the clean energy sector. Nearly half said most recruits came with experience in the traditional energy sector.

Michael Liebreich, CEO of New Energy Finance, said the research “has shown that very rapid growth in investment in clean energy is putting strain on the availability of senior managers with sector experience. There is strong momentum behind the growth of clean energy worldwide, with new investment up nearly fivefold between 2004 and 2007, but this is creating shortages not just of components such as silicon and transport infrastructure such as crane ships for offshore wind, but also of human capital.”

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San Francisco, CA January 17, 2008

$5.18 Billion Over 2007 & Sixth Consecutive Year of Growth; Q407 with 100 Percent Year-Over-Year

The Cleantech Group™, LLC, released today YE2007 and Q407 results for Clean Tech investments indicating the sixth consecutive year of sustained investment growth.

North America (NA) and Europe produced stronger than expected growth in Q407, with total Clean Tech investment across the regions more than doubling year-over-year, from $676 million in Q406 to $1.38 billion in Q407. This brings the level of venture investment in NA and Europe for 2007 to $5.18 billion and historical results for the Clean Tech category as:

2007: $5.18 billion
2006: $3.6 billion
2005: $2.5 billion
2004: $1.8 billion
2003: $1.7 billion
2002: $899 million
2001: $714 million

NA Clean Tech investing in 2007 grew by 38 percent, from $2.87 billion invested in 2006 to $3.95 billion invested in 2007. The number of deals increased by 15 percent, from 233 in 2006 to 268 in 2007. The average deal size increased by 20 percent, from an average of $12.3 million in 2006 to $14.7 million in 2007.

European Clean Tech investing grew by 34 percent, from $915 million in 2006 to $1.23 billion in 2007. The number of deals increased by 56 percent, from 67 in 2006 to 105 deals in 2007. Average deal size in Europe increased by 26 percent from $7.8 million in 2006 to $9.8 million in 2007 (excluding the outliers of the $395 million Airtricity financing in 2006 and the $205 million Isofoton financing in 2007).

North American companies continue to receive the lion’s share of Clean Tech venture investing, with North American-based companies receiving over 3x the investment of European-based companies.

“Despite strong headwinds building in the global economy and tightening credit markets, the medium and long-term value propositions for Clean Tech opportunities sustained the sixth consecutive year with unexpectedly robust growth,” said Nicholas Parker, co-founder and Chairman, Cleantech Group™. “High carbon-based energy prices, global resource competition and increasingly favorable policy frameworks provide stronger than ever fundamental drivers for cleantech investors, and we foresee continued growth over 2008 as the Clean Tech market cycle moves from early adoption to mainstream driver of wealth and job creation.”

2007 Top Five Clean Tech Investment Sectors

The Clean Tech investment category is composed of 11 industry segments. Over 2007, the top five categories by total financings were:

Energy Generation: $2.75 billion; 172 deals
Energy Storage: $471 million; 20 deals
Transportation: $445 million; 20 deals
Energy Efficiency: $356 million; 41 deals
Recycling & Waste: $291 million; 17 deals

Energy Generation remained the forerunner over 2007. Within the NA and European markets, companies based in California received the majority of financing, representing $966 million, a 38 percent increase over 2006 levels.

In Energy Storage, the highest percentage of financings went to companies in the Northeastern United States, receiving $208 million, up from $39 million the year before. In Recycling and Waste, companies based in Western Europe received the largest percentage of total financings at $81 million, up from $17 million in 2006.

Five Largest Clean Tech Rounds in 2007 – Company Country Amount $(mil)

Isofoton SA Spain 205
Brazilian Renewable Energy Co., Ltd. Brazil 200
Project Better Place US 200
Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. China 118
HelioVolt Corp US 101

The number of $100 million or larger rounds increased over 2006 levels, indicating increased investor confidence in the category, while 8 of the top ten solar financing rounds since 1999 occurred in 2007. Related in the solar market, a significant drop in the price of materials for silicon PV solar could come in 2008 due to increased refining capacity coming on-line over 2008-2010 timeframe.

China, India, Brazil and Australia

With results for China, India, Brazil and Australia, preliminary results show continued and significant investment growth in 2007. In addition to three successful crystalline silicon IPOs, China attracted investor interest for solar companies, including Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd., which received $118 million, and Shunda Holdings Co. Ltd., which received $82 million. In India, the top three Clean Tech investments included solar company Moser Baer Photo Voltaic Ltd. with $100 million and wind companies Vestas RRB India Ltd at $55.6 million and Regen Powertech Private Ltd. with $25 million. Interest in the Southern Hemisphere is also increasing, with Brazil securing the largest deal with a $200 million round for sugarcane ethanol-producer, Brazilian Renewable Energy Co.

Public Markets and M&As

The Cleantech Index™ (CTIUS), composed of 47 leading Clean Tech public companies across the full range of sectors within the Clean Tech category (including energy efficiency and renewable energy to advanced materials, air & water purification, water and agriculture), rose 42 percent over 2007. Top IPOs tracked included Iberdrola Renovables in Spain, Cosan Ltd. in Brazil, Polypore Intl Inc. in the U.S., and LDK Solar, Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and JA Solar Holdings Co., all Chinese crystalline silicon photovoltaics producers. Unlike prior years, the majority of large IPOs shifted from Europe to US exchanges.

Top Clean Tech acquisitions closed in 2007 included targets Horizon Wind Energy LLC (US), SULO GmbH (Germany), Actaris Metering Systems Ltd (Germany), Metal Management Inc. (US), and Airtricity North America (US). The combined value of the M&A transactions was $8.76 billion.

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Katie Fehrenbacher from earth2tech.com January 30, 2008

Vinod KhoslaNo name is more synonymous with Clean Tech investing than Sun Microsystems co-founder turned venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. His Khosla Ventures invested between $60 million to $70 million into 14 Clean Tech startups in the first three quarters of 2007, according to third-party data; Khosla himself estimates that his firm has the largest clean tech portfolio on this planet.

He’s also highly controversial, often getting into public spats with writers, environmentalists and people who publicly disagree with his investing strategy. Critics charge he’s a lobbyist for his own investments. To us, he is one of the major engines behind building the Clean Tech ecosystem and finding the bleeding-edge technology to fight climate change. Here’s five questions we asked him during our interview for The GigaOM Show, which is going to be released on Thursday, Jan. 31:

E2T: You invest a lot earlier than other Clean Tech investors. What are the winning factors you see for very early-stage Clean Tech companies as opposed to non-Clean Tech companies?

Vinod Khosla: The factors are the same. Between 1996 and 2001, the heyday of the Internet, more than half of my investments at Kleiner Perkins were less than a million dollars. It helps the team formulate their ideas, experiment a little more, evolve, test, market, build teams. It’s not unusual for us to start with $100,000 or $200,000 or $1 million or $2 million to try out a new science idea. Just like Juniper was started with $350,000, and later we did over $100 million of funding.

The way I like to explain it is if you are at this intersection where there are six roads going up — if you pick a road too early, you only end up where the road leads. So it’s sometimes worth spending some time at this intersection exploring all the avenues a little bit more and deciding which is the best one, where you have the best advantage, and where you can assemble the best team, and then picking a path.

E2T: You are a very prolific writer and controversial. Do you want to comment on the articles on Grist going back and forth with Joseph Romm, and what you’ve said in the past about plug-in hybrids as toys?

VK: I’m happy to address any topic. I’m not shy at saying the wrong thing. Either I have an opinion that I believe or I don’t. If I believe it, then I’m happy to say it. The fact is the carbon reduction per mile driven makes no sense at all for hybrids today. Something like a Prius is more greenwash than green. And I keep saying that especially with the U.S. grid. That is what I put on the web site, in response to Joseph Romm saying I was dissing hybrids. I was clarifying the numbers, the facts, the analysis. You notice he’s never done any analysis, or at least not posted any.

What are the carbon reductions per mile or per dollar spent on capital spending? If they spend $5,000 extra on a Prius, how much carbon reduction do you actually get other than handwaving and saying its just nice to do? McKinsey just did a study that said it cost $90 for a ton of carbon to reduce carbon using hybridization of cars. It is among the most expensive.

So if somebody has a little bit of money to invest and they want to do the best for environment, they should change their light bulbs. That saves them money and it is a negative cost per ton of carbon, while a Prius is $90 a ton to reduce a ton of carbon. One has to be economic about this. This is what analysis is about and this is often what is misunderstood.

E2T: You’re well known for having big macro views as to how these things have to change. What do you think is the single biggest failure of American environmental policy that we could actually do something about?

VK: For every nuclear plant that environmentalists avoided, they ended up causing two coal plants to be built. That’s the history of the last 20 years. Most new power plants in this country are coal, because the environmentalists opposed nuclear. When you ask someone like the NRDC, ‘Do you prefer nuclear or coal?’ They’ll say ‘We prefer nuclear to coal, but we don’t want either.’ It doesn’t work that way; we need power.

They’d like to see wind and solar photovoltaics. Well, it doesn’t work if it’s 40 cents a kilowatt hour, and it doesn’t work if you have to tell PG&E’s customers: ‘We’ll ship you power when the wind’s blowing and the sun’s shining, but otherwise, you gotta miss your favorite soap opera or NFL game.’ That’s just the reality, so you have to be pragmatic about this. What is the most cost-effective way to do it?

When it comes to automobiles we’re going to ship 1 billion new cars in the next 15 years worldwide, and any technology that doesn’t make at least 50 to 80 percent penetration — 500 million to 800 million cars over the next 15 years — is not going to affect climate change. To say something that might sell 20 million cars or 50 million cars is gonna matter, well, no. A Prius-like hybrid (there are other types of hybrids that are more promising) but a Prius-like hybrid will not penetrate 500 million cars over the next 15 years. So it’s a toy when it comes to climate change.

It’s a good investment, by the way. We have two battery investments, to make better hybrid batteries. So it’s not like I think it’s a bad market. Something can be a good investment, like batteries, without it being material to climate change. Now biodiesel or diesel from waste grease in San Francisco are toys. They are never going to replace petroleum because they are not going to be cheap enough.

E2T: What do you drive?

VK: I drive a Lexis hybrid. Look, I drive a hybrid because I can afford one. What is important is to take technologies that 500 million people can afford. That is a little different.

E2T: In an article you wrote a few years ago you said ‘I don’t see a carbon cap-and-trade system being viable in the U.S in the next couple of years because it would be so difficult to get it through.’ Do you still agree with that?

VK: No, I’m getting more optimistic that we can get [there]. Five years ago I didn’t think it was likely. I think during the next presidential cycle, in the next eight years after the new president is elected, I think it is reasonably likely we will have a carbon cap-and-trade bill. I think if we were pragmatic we would reduce it to two or three areas. If we just did cap and trade for oil, for coal, for cement and for steel, we would cover more than 80 percent of the emissions in this country and get a bill much sooner and there would be fewer parties interested in fighting the legislation.

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January 8, 2008

Google.org has announced a $US25 million funding round to a variety of organisations. The grants and investments fall into five areas that will be the focus of the company’s philanthropic activity for the next five to ten years.

“These five initiatives are our attempt to address some of the hard problems we as a world need to face in the coming decade,” said Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org.

“We have chosen them both because we think solving them will make a better, fairer, safer world for our children and grandchildren – and the children and grandchildren of people all over the world – but also because we feel that these core initiatives fit well with Google’s core strengths, especially its innovative technologies and its talented engineers and other Googlers, who are really our most valuable assets.”

Several relatively big-ticket allocations have been made.

InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) will receive $US5 million to help its work in improving readiness and response to global health threats and humanitarian disasters. (‘Predict and Prevent’)

The Global Health and Security Initiative has been allocated $US2.5 million to improve disease surveillance systems in the Mekong Basin. (‘Predict and Prevent’)

Pratham, a Indian non-government organisation, will use its $US2 million to set up an institute to conduct a regular national education status report and large scale assessments. (‘Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services’)

$US4.7 million is heading to Technoserve, which will use it to help entrepreneurs in poor rural areas of the world to build businesses. (‘Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises’)

A few smaller grants were also made to organisations working in the above areas.

But the biggest single allocation is staying closer to home. As part of the RE<C project (‘Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal’), Google.org is investing $10 million in eSolar. The plan, and more specifically the relationship with eSolar was revealed last year, but the investment deal has now been completed.

Another previously announced Google.org program is RechargeIT (‘Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles’), which ties in nicely with RE<C – if we’re going to see electric cars, it makes sense that the power they use should be generated as cleanly as possible. While no specifics were announced, Google.org said it plans a series of $US500,000 to $US2 million investments in this area.

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Cleantech Group LLC will present Cleantech Forum® XVI in San Francisco, California from February 25–27, 2008. The theme of this event is “Crossing the Chasm: From Roadmap to Purchase Order – Accelerating Global Cleantech Market Demand.”

The Cleantech Forum® is a leading cleantech investment event that brings together investors, senior executives, entreprenuers, policymakers, and scientists. Highlights of the San Francisco event include investor presentations from more than 20 promising companies, two tracks of educational panel presentations, a Cleantech Limited Partners Roundtable, and an awards dinner. For more information

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MendoCoastCurrent tracks the world of Clean Energy technology, research, development, news and funding.

As the Mendocino coast may become home to Wave Energy development, MendoCoastCurrent focuses on informing and exploring our role as stewards of the awesome Mendocino coastal ecosystem.

It is MendoCoastCurrent’s vision to develop a Clean Energy campus (wind, solar, biofuels, wave, desalination, etc.) for energy incubators, start-ups, educational programs and consortium, situated on an unused, 400+ acre coastal waterfront, now-defunct Georgia-Pacific Mill Site.

We are offered this opportunity to create an energy research and technology development center that implements best practices in clean technology research and development. All housed and working within a green constructed campus and tech center, along with community space and integration. Responsibly enabling the Mill Site to become a healthy and thriving environment to work, learn and grow! Situated on the wild and rustic Mendocino coast famous for its protected environs, sea and air.

Bio-remediation has an integral role in creating this healthy return from the remains of yesteryear’s Mill Site to a dream of clean energy development with zero carbon footprint, in balance with our world (and the next generations) as clean technologies are developed and explored. This, in turn, provides power to the local, coastal, community-owned power agency.

You may also look to MendoCoastCurrent for the latest ‘n greatest in Mendocino Clean Energy Technology development.

If you’re wishing to connect with us, please email laurelkrause (at) gmail.com.

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TED GREENWALD, Wired, November 12, 2007

Gore, Doerr & Joy is not a folk rock supergroup but an investment power trio with a common goal: To use market forces to stop global warming.

Former vice president Al Gore has become a partner in Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers.

In return, John Doerr — KPCB founder and early investor in Amazon, Google and Netscape — has joined the advisory board of Gore’s three-year-old green investment firm, Generation.

And Bill Joy, the boy genius behind Sun Microsystems, Java and the latest generation of Unix operating systems, is a KPCB partner who established his cred as a techno activist by advocating limits on research in potentially dangerous technologies like genetic engineering.

Together, they’re inviting all comers to submit eco-friendly business plans in need of capital.

The climate situation is so dire, and the investment opportunity so enticing, that the principals are determined to leave no possible solution unexplored.

Doerr, who confessed his fear of climate change in an emotional presentation at last year’s TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference, predicts that $200 million in KPCB capital will target global warming within a year, in addition to the $270 million currently allocated to environmental issues.

The alliance with Generation will help him figure out where to put the new money. The alt-fuels market is estimated to be worth $1 trillion, the global energy industry worth six times as much. All of which makes the new Green Revolution the new internet on Sand Hill Road.

“It’s going to be fun and wildly profitable, and really good for the planet. How can you not be excited about this?” says Joy.

Well, a flood of dodgy proposals soon to arrive at KPCB-Generation central might give the VCs pause.

Wired talked with Gore, Joy, Doerr and Generation co-founder and managing partner David Blood during a Monday conference call.

Al Gore: If I could start up with a brief opening comment. We are announcing an international alliance between Generation Investment Management and Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers to accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. These two firms, in alliance, cover the full spectrum of the investment marketplace, and we’re asking entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and technologists around the world to send us their ideas, business plans and new technologies.

We have geared up to give a full and fair hearing to those ideas. Though we will, no doubt, make mistakes, we will pledge our best efforts to give a full hearing — including to ideas and technologies that perhaps have been given short shrift in the past — and we look forward to seeing many that have not yet seen the light of day.

We believe that Sir Nicholas Stern is right when he says, along with others, that there is an investment gap of up to 1 percent of world GDP over the next several decades that needs to be closed if we’re going to succeed in quickly developing a low-carbon economy. We’re very excited to have this chance to work together and bring these two world-class teams together.

Bill Joy: It’s widely recognized that we’re going to need to invest more, but we also need to buy things we can afford.

If we look at the technologies out there today, there’s a lot of things that can be profitably deployed. People can get a lot more efficient. But the scale of the problem is very large. We’re going to need new technologies to fully solve the problem.

Investing in new technologies and more rapid deployment of technologies that are farther along and sharing intelligence about the best way to allocate capital will yield not only good investment returns but also better results for the planet. That’s why we’re so excited to be working with Generation and Al Gore.

Wired News: So you’re inviting all comers to pitch you?Gore: The tone of your voice conveys some question about the wisdom of this invitation.

WN: It does make me wonder how you’ll cope with the inevitable flood of — how can I say it politely? Un-actionable ideas.

Gore: Between Generation and Kleiner Perkins, we’re already seeing 3,000 plans per year. So we have already developed the capacity for this review and we have scaled it up in anticipation of increased flow. And, of course, we recognize that there are a lot of proposals that should never see the light of day. But we also recognize that there are a lot of great ideas and technologies that have not been given adequate consideration and aren’t (given adequate consideration) because of the heavy subsidies for high-carbon technologies that are enormously profitable for incumbent enterprises. As the world shifts away from a high-carbon economy, we need to do a better job, all of us, in recognizing the new opportunities.

David Blood: The challenge that Bill Joy just outlined is an enormous challenge. We’re in the process of moving from the carbon-based economy to something different. It would be probable that that would undergo a change over the course of decades.

Our guess is — given the challenges associated with climate change — which transition is going to need to occur much more quickly. Over a 10-year period, possibly a five-year period.

So the need for entrepreneurship and creativity in ways we can’t even fathom, not only as investors or business people but across civil society, is so great that, in some ways, the call seems to be, we’re asking for a lot.

But it’s also symbolic, to say we need to take a different approach here. We need to have a total change of mindset. We need creativity. We need existing businesses to change — entrepreneurs, capital markets professionals and public policy.

WN: It’s laudable and intriguing to open the doors wide, but my immediate sense is that, given the stature of the participants, you probably already have your fingers on the pulses of the most significant developments available and probably already have personal connections with many of the people.

Gore: Here’s what I would encourage you to add to your way of thinking. Even though we do, in fact, have some good ideas about who we think some of the likely winners will be, the scale of this is larger than any challenge our global civilization has ever confronted.

This is going to be larger than the industrial revolution, in a shorter period of time. The initiatives involved will be the equivalent of the Manhattan Project, the Apollo Program, and the Marshall Plan combined and scaled globally.

There are a lot of people who are going to be actively involved in trying to catalyze this transition. We want to do our part and bring the skills, discipline and experience of these two world-class teams together to bring to bear on this challenge and to do our part.

Joy: If you saw the TV show, Connections, you saw how breakthroughs come after a series of small steps. We’ve been looking actively for years, figuring out what we can do that would make a real difference and addressing energy and renewability of the way we do things. And, in many cases, we have a whole picture — except there may be one or two pieces missing.

So if someone has something they think is new and could be a piece, that could be interesting because our preparation yields us the opportunity to take that small piece and maybe make it the final piece of the puzzle.

That’s across a wide range of mechanical engineering disciplines, chemistry, physics, biology, all sorts of technical areas where a higher price for carbon, higher price for oil makes things more interesting than they were when those prices were artificially depressed.

Are these scenarios publicly available, so I can see what piece you feel is missing and put my mind to filling it?

Joy: That would be a job and a half in itself. We’re talking really arcane stuff here. For example, if you want to capture CO2, the material you capture it with has to be recycled. It’s not the capture that’s hard, it’s the recycling of the material that captures, cost-effectively.

Then, of course you have to do something with the CO2 once you capture it. That’s another piece. So there are pieces missing. Let’s find them.

WN: Do you have a specific set of criteria that you’ll be judging proposals on?

Joy: We get business plans, we look at the team, technology, markets — things have to go to scale to make a difference, so we’re looking for ideas that can make a big difference.

Gore: One of the criteria will be how big a contribution to solving the climate crisis will the technology represent.

Blood: I think it’s also important to put this into a somewhat broader context. There are multiple industries and businesses that will be part of the solution to climate change.

It’s not just green technology. It ranges from water to markets to the carbohydrate economy to energy efficiency. It’s a broad series of industries and businesses.

Second, it’s across all stages of companies’ development. We’re talking, at this moment, about early-stage businesses, but that’s just part of the solution. Part of the challenge is to work with later-stage businesses as well as larger businesses.

Some of the largest companies in the world are the largest participants in these markets. So it’s not just the small startup that you’re familiar with, that Kleiner is so great with. It’s that among other types of businesses.

Joy: At the moment, in my funnel, personally, I have about 100 ventures. They start from “somebody has an idea” or “I saw this patent,” or something, and at the far end are the things we work on with Generation.

There’s probably 10 such ventures. We looked at one just a couple of weeks ago. We went into diligence on it. We didn’t end up making the investment.

One of the partners here is seeing one of those a week. So if the flow picks up here, we’re going to be pretty busy. You do that for a while and you can pick out the ones that are going to matter pretty quickly.

Ten times the volume isn’t 10 times the work. You still have to be polite, that takes a little time, get a good process for being polite to people for sending us their stuff, but it doesn’t take anywhere near 10 times the work to process 10 times more once we know areas — and we do. That’s the strength of these two firms. We go all the way from the earliest ideas to the public markets.

WN: The approach of investing in technologies that you think will solve an environmental problem has been around for some time. But I do wonder about the dual goal of doing well and doing good and whether you can actually maximize your returns and your environmental gains at the same time. How has that been going?

Blood: The biggest challenge, when people ask this question, “is it possible to make money and do well by society or the planet?”, where that question is off the mark is when you think of it as two separate points.

We don’t think of it that way. The whole question of sustainability is integral to how you manage businesses. Any industrial business has to understand what their carbon footprint is. It’s pollution, it’s waste; they need to find ways to mitigate that. Clearly, with the price of carbon, that will be a big deal.

In the case of other aspects of sustainability, like how you operate in your community, license to operate matters to a retailer, it matters to a financial institution. How you attract and retain employees matters. Corporate governance matters. Long-term demographic and economic factors matter.

The best business leaders in the world have already internalized this. They don’t think of it as two separate points. They think of it as how they run their business in a thoughtful, effective way for the long-term profitability of their shareholders as well as their multiple stakeholders. It’s not hard for us to understand how that operates. We think it’s best practice.

WN: But when you’re trying to fill in holes in larger systems, as Bill pointed out, how do you strike a balance between filling the hole and making a profit?

Joy: The secret here is we’ve got an enormous amount of capital that needs to be replaced. Add up all the capital that’s out there and it’s basically not very valuable, or worth anything at all, given how much carbon it puts out and how expensive carbon is and is going to be.

So we need companies that can provide efficient capital and systems, so companies that have this now-unaffordable system in place are going to look to low cost of capital, low operating cost, low carbon footprint to replace it.

Revolutionary technologies like we’ve seen in the semiconductor industry, and revolutions in chemistry and physics, electronics, and whole systems … things that are already existing, can be deployed in large public companies. The kind of intelligence we get from Generation lets us know where these large markets are. We help give an idea of what can come along. Put those things together — I think this is the most profitable place to be because you’re displacing things that are so incredibly inefficient.

Personal computers were profitable because people didn’t have computers before. It wasn’t a displacement market.

This is almost as good; it’s probably better. It’s a bigger market, and what we’re displacing is largely stupid. It should be easy to displace. So I think it’s going to be fun and wildly profitable, and really good for the planet. So why not do it? How can you not be excited about this?

Blood: There’s two points to make. The fact that there is no price on carbon means that we’re inefficiently, inappropriately allocating capital to businesses that are not properly accounting for their cost.

Second, we’re not advocating that capital should be allocated in a subsidized way. That’s not sustainable in the long term. We like philanthropy, but that’s not what we’re arguing for here. We’re talking about getting a proper price on carbon and then making thoughtful allocations to capital to address these challenges, which will be profitable for these entrepreneurs as well as existing businesses that have worked it out.

Joy: We have a petrochemical industry. We can think of a renewable chemical industry based on biological inputs. Cargill estimated that that’s a $1 trillion market. That’s big enough. I think we can make good progress working against that opportunity. That technology doesn’t exist today.

WN: I accept your premise. My question was directed at how you find the balance.

Joy: We look for great ventures within the universe of ventures that are applicable to this problem. We find ones that are as good as any we’ve seen in the history of the partnership.

I think Generation is seeing, and the public markets see, companies better positioned for the future than companies that aren’t green. The green companies are in better shape as the true price of these inputs becomes apparent to make it wildly profitable. But you’ve got to understand what the driving forces are, and that’s what we’re going to do together.

Gore: We may be beating a dead horse, but let me add one more comment. There were two earlier waves of efforts to integrate sustainability factors into equity investing. Thirty-five years ago so-called ethical investing relied on a negative screen that did result in the impression that’s at the base of your question — you have to choose between doing well and doing good.

Then a second wave came along called best-in-class investing, or positive screen investing. That left that basic conflict in place.

But the third wave of global equity investing that Generation represents, that’s based on full integration of sustainability factors into every facet of this process, is powered by intensive research into how the sustainability factors uncover perspectives and knowledge about business opportunities that you can’t get in any other way.

It actually does serve to increase the returns compared to an approach that is not based on integrating sustainability factors.

In the same way, in early-stage investment opportunities, there are similar factors at work. And with the entire global economy poised to make this enormous shift, with the first signs of this shift already evident, we think this is a fantastic opportunity to match up the investment dollars with the opportunities that need to be developed quickly.

WN: When I hear people talk about technologies like solar, the business case always depends on government subsidies. I wonder whether you have a parallel effort to work on policy.

Gore: We think the opportunity we’re pursuing will come to fruition with or without changes in government policy. There are consumer preferences, business shifts in perspective; the entire economy is moving very forcefully.

There have already been policy changes in Europe and Japan and some other areas. The state of California has already made a policy shift, more than 700 U.S. cities have already made a policy shift.

Even if there’s no national government policy change, these opportunities are well worth pursuing in the marketplace.

If, as we expect, there will be policy changes forthcoming, then the opportunities are even greater. Will we join in the discussion of why those policy shifts should occur? Yes.

We have already been part of that. At Generation we have been deeply involved in it. Kleiner Perkins has as well. John Doerr is probably more responsible than any single person for AB32, the bipartisan legislation that passed in California that caused an earthquake in the policy world. We’ll all continue that policy advocacy.

WN: What are your favorite approaches to reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, in technology terms?

Joy: Number one, I learned from Amory Lovins many years ago, start by reducing demand. When everyone thinks of renewable energy, they think of solar panels, but that’s the wrong end to start from.

First you’ve got to cut down the amount you use. The number one cost-effective demand reduction is insulation. It’s not sexy, but it saves a huge amount of energy. So companies that find ways to get businesses and residences to improve their insulation would make a huge difference.

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ERICKA MORPHY, E-Commerce Times, November 12, 2007

Former vice president Al Gore can add high-profile Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to his already extensive resume. The Nobel Peace Prize winner will join the VC firm as a partner and help guide its investments in green businesses and technologies. Kleiner Perkins already has an established reputation as a supporter of environmentally friendly technology — especially when it makes money.

Former U.S. vice present and Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmental activist Al Gore has linked up with a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with similar street cred in the investment community.

Generation Investment Management, which Gore cofounded, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers have announced plans to collaborate on identifying and funding green businesses, technologies and policies that have the greatest potential to solve the climate crisis.

The partnership will provide funding and expertise to both public and private companies as well as one-person shop entrepreneurs. As a part of the collaboration, Gore will join KPCB as a partner. The firm will also co-locate its European operations at Generation’s offices in London. John Doerr, partner at KPCB, will join Generation’s Advisory Board.

Under the alliance, KPCB will continue to invest in startup venture capital while Generation will continue to invest in global public equities. The two firms will collaborate on opportunities in such sectors as renewable energy technologies, building efficiency, cleaner fossil energy, sustainable agriculture and carbon markets. As part of the agreement, all of Gore’s salary as a partner at KPCB will be donated directly to the Alliance for Climate Protection — the nonpartisan foundation he chairs that focuses on accelerating policy solutions to the climate crisis.

The tie-up, Gore observed, brings together world-class business talent. Indeed, it would be difficult to locate a firm that has a better reputation than KPCB among investors.

“KPCB has been a very active investor in clean technology for the last few years, which is more than most other firms,” Dan Pullman, a principal with investment banking firm McNamee Lawrence, told the E-Commerce Times. For instance, there were some 10 companies focusing on investing in this area a few years ago, of which KPCB was one. Today that number is between 30 to 50. “KPCB has a real lead and strong expertise in this area,” Pullman said.

KPCB’s pull in the investment community is due in part to its approach to emerging technologies, be it in the tech or life sciences or clean or green technology sectors, Pullman continued.

“It doesn’t specifically look at investments as just a function of, say, tax credits” or for other non-business related reasons. Rather, KPCB “looks at potential investments to see which has the best chance of becoming economically viable businesses.”

Besides the economic sustainability issue, he said, the KPCB name also lends even more political credibility to the environmental movement. “It is a great move for Gore to step in with a deep player like” KPCB.

Global Ties

The partnership should also bring new blood to this issue, Eric Koester, member of the law firm Heller Ehrman, told the E-Commerce Times, noting that the partnership will be leveraging KPCB’s presence in Asia and the United States and Generation’s presence in the United States, Europe and Australia.

“It will be interesting to see what cross-border cooperation can bring to the table,” he said. This space is continually evolving as new regulations, new money and new technologies are established. “Making this a three-continent play should really push momentum,” Koester said.

For instance, zero-emission manufacturing — designing facilities for optimal energy use and alternative energy application — should benefit from greater visibility and increased investment, said Lou Ronsivalli, senior executive with Trane, which works with organizations in the military, healthcare, education and business sectors to help them to improve energy efficiency.

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MendoCoastCurrent is currently a stakeholder-based blog focused on clean technology and renewable energy developments in the world as well as wave energy developments on the Mendocino Coast

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