Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Vinod Khosla and the 'new alternative energy' sources

Quite honestly, I had no idea that Vinod Khosla has his time, energy, and money dedicated, at least in part, to alternative energy source(s). It is indeed very encouraging to know that venture capitalists are now beginning to take interest into alternative energy sources. To me it seems that we are in time where the PC and software industry would have been in the late 70s. There a technology out there that we all know is the future, there's a few people and big companies invested, the technology is still expensive, and the market is not yet ripe, but the imperative is huge, and small time players are experimenting with different products. Isn't this exactly how it was with the PC industry when the, then small, players got into it; Microsoft, Apple, etc.

I had always heard of how big companies lobby and eat out or threaten small new entrants. But Vinod shares a story where a big European oil executive threatens to lower the oil prices so low that the whole biofuel industry will become economically implausible. Quite a statement to make, but one that reveals how difficult and challenging it can get for innovators to get going. But the interesting thing out of this all is Vinod's proposed tax structure that can be used as a hedge against this price manipulation. Smart idea!

This is the presentation ( http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-570288889128950913&q=vinod+khosla%2C+google ) that Vinod shared with Google folks. It's a good one to go through because there are some amazing statistics. At a lot of points during the presentation it raised questions in my mind about a lot of things. Also, this is a good introduction to how legislations are made and how they can be influenced by the influential few.

But this presentation and several others still leave me with a question, why biofuels only, why not PV or Fuel Cells?