Friday, August 1, 2008

Revolutionary Capitalism

Branching out from the Green Energy discussion of last time, there's this great interview with Vinod Khosla on the SF Chronicle site.

I am only now learning about Khosla, which means I must have not been paying much attention since he's a major venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

In the interview, he puts forward the following important points, including many that pricked holes in my own personal preconceptions:

* Hybrids are not a real long-term solution, more a status symbol thing

* Solar thermal plants are cost-effective compared to natural gas-powered ones

* Food prices are going up more because of higher oil prices than biofuels

* Brazil adopted flex-fuel cars in three years! From 3% of new cars in 2003 to 75% of new cars in 2006

* over-regulation hurts: "the bureaucracy in California for permitting is so large that whenever we can, our companies for production move out of state."

I'm not saying he's necessarily right on all of the above, but the man has a proven track record of guessing right on a lot of new technologies through his venture capital firm, whereas I have no such track record. So that argues for giving all of the above a respectful consideration.

What I personally take away from his interview is this: the doom and gloomers are wrong again, and what will get us through the current price and energy disruptions is innovation and risk-taking that produces cheaper, more environmentally effective solutions. In short, capitalism!

Since I am a political geek whether it's an election year or not, I think this argues more in favor of McCain's generally free market, incentives-laden approach to the energy problem than Obama's big-spending government programs. But that's just me. Your mileage may vary.

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