CNET: Clean Tech’s 5 Dirty Truths

by | Jul 20, 2007

Misperceptions have punctuated major industrial and IT changes and, according to a CNET article by Kirk Washington, they’ve taken hold today, as the clean-energy revolution gains currency in companies and communities

There are five dirty truths about clean technology people must keep in mind to make real progress. According to Washington:

#1 Clean tech is a puzzle that is not easily solved. There are a number of complex pieces that have to fit together, including cost, efficiency, emissions and, ultimately, sustainability. There is no magic energy elixir.

#2 Clean tech may reverse rampant globalization. As the cost of transporting certain forms of energy across vast distances becomes prohibitive, energy use will undoubtedly become more local and make better use of indigenous sources.

#3 We are probably offering false hope when we suggest that there is another generation of Edisons and Hewletts working in garages around America to fix our unprecedented environmental problems. In the end, this clean-technology revolution, unlike that for IT, may not be driven by venture capital-backed start-up companies.

#4 Collaboration, rather than competition, is going to win the day here. The large incumbent organizations in the old energy economy aren’t innovating fast or well enough. Their R&D budgets are shrinking, and the best and brightest engineers are no longer flocking to them.

#5 The only way that clean technology can fulfill its promise and potential is if venture start-ups and large established companies handle the upside and downside together. Venture capitalists routinely deal with risk, so that’s not a problem. The real issue is whether shareholders of publicly held enterprises will stomach the risk.

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