Sunday, March 25, 2007

Smell the clean burning excitement!

This Times piece is at first exciting, then a tad disheartening. Not sure why - perhaps it's the surfeit of get-rich quick dot-commers who gave the world some truly awful business plans 10 years ago. At least the barriers to entry are a bit more challenging in this go-round than in the past.

Some quotes of interest

In this case, the energy sector is not so distant from other Silicon Valley specialties as it might appear, say those involved in the new wave of start-ups. The same silicon used to make computer chips converts sunlight into electricity on solar panels, while the bioscience used to make new drugs can be employed to develop better ethanol processing.
Those drawn to the alternative-energy industry say that they need time to understand the energy technology, and to turn ideas into solid companies. After all, in contrast to the Internet boom, this time the companies will need actual manufactured products and customers.
''We'll have a sense very quickly -- within two to four years -- whether any of this venture capital has produced any products or services that are market-worthy,''
Mr. Beebe said there were profound similarities between the Internet boom and the miniboom in energy. For one, he said, just as the Internet promised to decentralize computing and put control in the hands of users, the Silicon Valley version of energy innovation intends to decentralize the industry by making power generation more local -- like solar panels on rooftops.
Certainly this kind of excitement and capital investment isn't a terrible thing. But whereas the dot-com bust allowed a lot of companies to go away and tinker under the radar (and basically wait for the broadband infrastructure to catch up to all the great new online strategies and business plans), this boom in clean energy is taking place in a very public and aggressive fashion. And I can imagine a lot of people are keeping their knives sharpened just in case...

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