Cheap oil signal end of greentech bubble?

Oil futures are dropping to depths not seen for months. Even Hurricane Ike was not able to hike up the oil futures.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Oil futures are dropping to depths not seen for months. Even Hurricane Ike was not able to hike up the oil futures. That devastating hurricane was trumped by the downward spin of the world's stock markets and a slew of other unencouraging economic stats.

So will this current swing toward "cheaper" oil bode ill for greentech?

First, the pressure to find clean technoplogy for our energy needs will only increase with the global temps. Just today a leading European scientist called for scrubbing ALL man-made CO2 out of the atmosphere. One must assume he realizes how radical and nearly impossible that would be. Capture all wood fire smoke? No more candles? No cigarettes? Clean up all coal-burning factories and generation plants? No more kerosene, or charcoal lighter or diesel? Let alone all the gas-guzzling cars we drive around the States.

Second, even after the U.S. elections are over, there will be plenty of interest in energy that is not imported. One of the biggest supporters of home-brew energy is the Pentagon, naturally. Neither party would favor shutting down the NREL. And even General Motors now realizes there's money to be made in plug-in electric cars...coming our way in 2010.

Some VC funds may suffer as their wealthier clients see stock portfolios collapse. But somehow I suspect the smarter money was out of the stock market a long time ago. Did anybody really buy the assurances that everything was under control? For bigger firms, this current stock market trauma will certainly hurt M and A plans, not to mention putting a damper on any IPOs. In the VC world, the Always On Conference is very much on...and the place is crawling with private equity owners, managers, start-ups. Uplike the tech boom twelve years ago, this one doesn't necessarily find start-ups aiming for buy-outs or quick-hit IPOs. Many of these greentech firms seem determined to become the GM, the GE, the Exxon of the new energy age. And they're doing it through private financing and not selling stock so far. Privately owned and managed firms are certainly freer to take risks or make tough judgement calls than those issuing quarterly reports to the carnivorous hordes on Wall Street. The huge amount of private equity now available, coupled with generous government subsidies in Europe and elsewhere may have uncoupled the greentech newbies from the old-tech dinosaurs on Wall Street.

Editorial standards