The European Commission is turning to high tech to solve its low energy blues. Specifically, the EC is hoping to see real progress in lowering greenhouse gas emissions by making buildings and power systems much more efficient. Not a new idea but one not embraced equally by other governments on the planet. The EC will also be encouraging cnversion to new highly efficient servers and computers. This is going to be good news for the Silicon Valley firms that are pushing more efficient, low-energy products.
Also in Europe, there's political heat over plans to build more housing. Here's an example of the problem as it moves through the British political system. Some critics want more green tech in any new housing built there.
YANKS ON WHATS GOING TO BE HOT NEXT?
American VCs project some of the hot new tech trends, regardless of what Europeans are hoping for. Various transitions in mobile devices and the ubiquitous Internet were predicted, of course. There was the usual blather on how we Boomers are going to determine the fate of the universe for decades to come.
However, there was some hopeful talk...about cleantech issues that will be important in the world of VCs. Clean water over global warming. Microbial engineering--that'll sound familiar if you follow this blog. The painful death throes of a fossil fuel industry no longer able to compete with cleantech and biofuels. The VC speaking on this topice, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, doesn't mean corn-based ethanol. Or ethanol made from suagr, as they do in Brazil and elsewhere. But ethanol of a different origin.
Here's one statement from Khosla during a recent interveiw, "First, long term, we can't solve our fuel problem by making fuel from food. It doesn't work. Two, we don't need to because there are much better alternatives. Much better in that not only are they more desirable, they're much cheaper. Why would anyone use corn when you can make fuel from forest waste?" [Bold is my emphasis.]
Then he added, "Food prices have been going up. Biofuels are a very minor contributor to that. But there are massive PR campaigns trying to ascribe most of the blame to biofuels. The fact is, by far the largest contributor to food-price inflation is oil prices. Biofuels are less than 15 percent of it."
Khosla then predicted that oil and coal would be unable to compete with biofuel in terms of price.
Two of Khosla's anti-fossil investments already have deals with auto giant, General Motors. One makes ethanol from agricultural and industrial waste. The other will use wood chips, paper factory sludge and switchgrass. The American bison and I have long been big fans of swichgrass, a native our forefathers plowed under and burned over.
In his interview Khosla comes across as a very pro-GM, market-respectful kinda guy, "Anything that requires people to change their habits has a low probability of success. It's been proven over and over again that people don't inconvenience themselves. You know, it's not like GM just wants to make big cars. People want to buy big cars, so GM makes them."
So we can keep our gas hawgs as long as they'll convert over to Vinod's cheaper ethanol fuels in a few years. Got it.