VCs Pitching Clean, Green Tech

From the San Jose Mercury News, a report on venture capital honchos John Doerr and John Denniston’s push for investment in clean and green technology at last week’s Cleantech Venture Network conference:

Most of the more than 500 attendees — up from 325 at the previous conference — crammed in to hear John Doerr, the well-known venture capitalist at Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, give a rousing talk about the urgent need for more energy efficiency.

“We will suffocate, and overrun, and pollute and poison our planet to death,” he said of the rampant growth in population of major cities — with eight cities the size of Manhattan being built every year, mainly in China, he noted.

A warming planet, through climate change, is another threat. Doerr, who was joined onstage by his partner John Denniston, displayed slides, including pictures of the entire Bay Area sitting under water — to show what would happen if global warming melts away Greenland’s ice sheet. The ice sheet’s melting is well under way, and its demise would lead to a 20-foot rise in ocean levels, he said.

Doerr’s solutions are twofold. First is to implement sensible policies, including a market for trading carbon emissions credits. Such a market would give credits to countries that pollute less than their pre-set limit, and allow them to sell those credits to other countries that want to pollute more than the limit.

Doerr also recommends more state and federal subsidies to help support alternative sources of energy, and consumption.

Entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley’s strong suit, is the second answer Doerr offered. Companies should search for ways to reduce the vast amounts of energy consumed by cars, industrial pumps and other energy hogs.

He popped up a slide of a new car called the Loremo. Created by a German start-up, Loremo AG, the car is a super-efficient coupe that costs only 11,000 Euro ($13,200) and promises an impressive 157 miles per gallon. It was shown in Geneva earlier this month, and is expected to hit the market in 2008.

I’m thinking attention at this level is much more than good news; it may well represent a watershed moment in green business, particularly for small start-ups doing the truly innovative work. Along these lines, I should notes that I’ve been quite remiss in not pointing to the latest Clean Edge report on clean energy trends — more good news.

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