Recent Posts:

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Rob Day: February 24, 2009, 3:26 AM
So what happens when a venture capital fund is given a few billion dollars by the U.S. government to invest in greentech? I ask this question because it is clearly being discussed pretty seriously right now.  I've heard rumors for some time now that Kleiner in particular has pitched the administration on the idea, but pundits like Thomas Friedman have also been throwing it out there (in a couple of op-eds here and here), and it dovetails with a proposal Obama made during the presidential campaign for a government greentech venture fund. Where there's smoke, there's fire, so I'm therefore assuming it's being discussed at a high level. So what would it likely look like, and...

WRI: A great data and analysis resource

Rob Day: February 22, 2009, 4:00 AM
You may or may not have heard of the World Resources Institute before, but for anyone interested in environmental data, green business best practices, and policy analysis, it's a hugely valuable institution. Of course, I'm a bit biased, having had the privilege of starting my career there.  But I was reminded again of the value of WRI's work at a breakfast meeting here in Boston yesterday, where Jonathan Lash -- WRI's President -- gave a terrific presentation covering the top environmental stories to watch in 2009.  You can read and see some of the presentation here. A few points from the talk really stuck out for me: 1.  Climate change effects are being seen and felt even...

What if energy was free?

Rob Day: February 14, 2009, 11:23 AM
Readers be forewarned, this is going to be a bit of a different (ie: useless) post from the usual... I was reading an Andrew Revkin column today, where he poses the question about what unintended consequences might result if the energy tech revolution succeeds in making "solar panels as cheap as paint," or to paraphrase:  "What happens if energy is virtually free?" Talk about your deep thoughts, it sounds like the premise of a Neal Stephenson novel, not your typical NYT type of thing.  But at the risk of pontificating outside of my investment horizon, I thought it was an interesting question, hearkening back to my days at an environmental economic thinktank (way back before...

Whistling past the graveyard

Rob Day: February 10, 2009, 10:56 AM
Happened upon a very sobering account of the economic crisis today on PoliticalWire, well worth reading:
On C-Span, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) explained how the Federal Reserve told members of Congress about an electronic run on the banks "to the tune of $550 billion dollars" within "an hour or two" last fall. According to Kanjorski, on September 18, 2008 the Fed tried to "stem the tide" by pumping money into the financial system but it didn't work and decided instead to announce an immediate increase in deposit insurance to $250,000 per account to stop the panic. Said Kanjorski: "If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2 p.m. that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would...

Two great links

Rob Day: February 10, 2009, 4:53 AM
If you want to get a great download of data on water trends and challenges, it's worth spending a few minutes watching Prof. Hermanowicz's presentation here. And if you want to understand why it's a bit misguided to say that cleantech as a whole is unattractive in a low oil price environment, see the below oldie-but-a-goodie chart.  And notice how little oil goes into any energy consumption outside of transportation.  (It's also always fun to note how much "Lost energy" there is in the system)  Yes, there are linkages to pricing throughout the system, but despite what the TV may tell you, oil isn't the only price-setter in the energy world.

Energy Efficiency needs a better lobby

Rob Day: February 7, 2009, 3:46 AM
There are two critical roles for energy efficiency in upcoming 2009 federal legislation.  But you almost never hear about them. First of all, energy efficiency is shovel-ready.  In other words, if you're looking to have an immediate impact on both green-collar jobs creation and cost-effective carbon emissions reductions, you absolutely have to include energy efficiency retrofits into the equation.  For example, look at commercial building energy efficiency retrofits:  The technology is available already; The nature of the work is service-oriented and building controls and HVAC and lighting are readily "trainable" for new recruits; and the economics often make perfect sense, if...