Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Followup on "The Cleantech Crash"

Dana Hull commented on the Stahl piece "The Cleantech Crash:"

The piece was puzzling for several reasons.

First, there was absolutely no mention of climate change. None. That’s the whole point of cleantech, after all: using the promise of technology and innovation to try to wean our economy off of fossil fuels.

It’s unclear why this piece aired now: what, exactly, is the news hook?

And it seems to confuse the federal support for clean technology that arose from the stimulus funding with the bets that venture capitalists in Silicon Valley have made on the sector, as Katie Fehrenbacher astutely notes at GigaOm.

Hull alluded to Bloom Energy:

Since Stahl spent so much time on Bloom Energy four years ago, why not check in on them? IPBiz notes that Bloom uses solid oxide fuel cells which are typically fed with natural gas, a fossil fuel. Thus, no weaning off fossil fuels. Fuel cells are more efficient than combustion, but still make CO2 and H20 as products. There was recently an installation of the Bloom technology at a building in Fukuoka, Japan owned by Softbank.

Of Jonathan Silver and DoE, BiofuelsDigest wrote in May 2011:

Silver’s unit had offered $4.8 billion in solar energy loan guarantees and conditional commitments in the month prior to the notices, but during the life of the program had not closed a single loan guarantee for biofuels – though the Diamond Green renewable diesel project had received a $241 million conditional commitment in the past six months.

Of the relation to KiOR, note the post KiOR IPO and DOE money.

Greg Pollowitz questions whether Ivanpah is a DoE success story.

Ted Bauer broke the "60 Minutes" piece into three segments: the KiOR beginning, DoE funding with taxpayer money, and China buying things that had been funded with taxpayer money (e.g., A123)

The story focused on a couple of angles, as you can see in the video above — essentially, it started by talking about Kior, which seems to be able to turn wood chips into gasoline in 30 minutes (as opposed to the millions of years it would take gasoline to form naturally). The report made it all seem really simple, and that adoption of the technology has been slow. That’s not completely true, but more on that in a second. Then the piece shifted to talking about all the failures involved in clean tech as relates to taxpayer money — people essentially being paid to sit around and do nothing, etc. The bow on the narrative was strung with “OMG, China is coming in and buying all our tech on the cheap even though it was developed with U.S. taxpayer money!!!” Those were essentially the three acts.

As to "wood chips to gasoline," note that on January 7, 2014, KiOR obtained US Patent No. 8,623,634 titled Growing aquatic biomass, and producing biomass feedstock and biocrude therefrom. This is a bit different from taking already fixed carbon (wood chips), and begins to look more like the "green crude" of Sapphire Energy. More on biofuels from algae.

In a piece titled TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: CBS'S 60 MINUTES TAKES APART GREEN TECH MOVEMENT , Breitbart included text about the interview portion with Steven Koonin and Pin Ni.


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