Saturday, October 11, 2008

Does science trump politics

There much of the global warming, peak oil, energy discussion, we keep hearing that the real solutions are so far into the future we have to build more coal fired power plants, drill for more oil, etc. The politicians, focused on making sure that the economy is not disturbed... even by innovation... continue to mouth this line.

My local ABC affiliate, KGO - San Francisco, devoted an hour of prime time last Tuesday night to a program on innovation in energy. I missed it then, but have been going back to their site to watch it in pieces... with a lot of interruptions to for Target commercials.

The range of possibilities is impressive. Follow the read more link to the real meat of the issue.

The most interesting segment for me involved a discussion between KGO Reporter David Louis and Vinod Khosla. Khosla was one of the founders of Sun Microsystems. He is currently heading Hohsla Ventures, a VC firm that focuses on the Green Economy, especially as it relates to energy.

The KGO page has two segments. One is the televised segment if I had watched it Tuesday. IN 3 minuets you only get a sense that something is happening. After all Khosla has put money into 45 new efforts. But the second segment is much more interesting. It is the entire interview between Louie and Khosla. In it, you find that there is enough going on to give me some hope that we really can innovate ourselves out of the predicament we are in... where we need the energy but our current sources only make the planet worse.

Lorna Salzman almost had me convinced that there was no way to innovate enough quickly enough to save the planet. Now, I am not so sure.

Here is just one of the companies that Khosla is funding. Calera is a startup from Los Gatos, CA. It is going directly at the problem of the sequstration of CO2 from power plants. However, rather than taking on some expensive, unproven method of injecting the CO2 into the ground or to dissolve it in sea water... the latter with it's own ecological problems... Calera is working on a process that processes all of the flue gas from these large scale power plants and turn it into a mineral that can be put to industrial use. Specifically, they produce cement.

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