Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things that make sense

Sometimes I look at certain things that, to me, obviously don’t make sense. The solution is so obvious that I get frustrated just thinking about it!

Case in point when I see a motorcycle rider without a helmet! (although this example is not Greentech related, I wanted to include it to illustrate the point). Why would any government that punishes suicide attempts and that has such a bitter discussion about a 3 week fetus being an individual, allow these people to roam around 70 MPH without any headgear? Same issue with cyclists, who foolishly think they look faster by avoiding the helmet.


Another example is using over ONE FULL GALLON of perfect tap water to wash down a man’s or a woman’s single “serving” of pee (a typical adult initiates bladder reflex contraction with 0.1 Gallon of urine). How hard can it be to mandate a water container that stores rain water and upon availability is used to flush toilets? or simply to create a toilet that does not require water for urine (and does for “other” uses)?

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A third case for general non-rationalization is allowing plastic bottles for drinking water, or even worse allowing “imported bottled water”. With the world water situation as it is (very bad, if you have not heard!) why would no one step up and prohibit companies from shipping bottled water from halfway around the globe just to create a “premium” market. Even worse, why don’t we wake up and recognize that plastic bottles are killing our environment and start using another material for our water containers (how hard can that be?).

“In the U.S., more than 30 billion
plastic water bottles end up as garbage or litter
each year”

When the cost of plastic became more attractive than glass all  bottling companies jumped into the new technology! With a little cooperation between government and industry a big difference can be achieved. Here is a NY Times article related to this issue (An Environmental Group’s Campaign of Wry Lies Against Bottled Water)


My forth and final example of “obvious irrationality” is the case for plug-in-hybrids. Here, I admit, there may be other factors unknown to me. But, as far as I can tell, the step from transforming a regular hybrid car into a plug-in hybrid is very straightforward. Granted, the battery pack in a plug-in may be a bit bigger (and heavier). But, the biggest difference is that energy will come from an OUTSIDE SOURCE into the car, as opposed to the minimal optimization achieved by regular hybrids (where energy is recuperated from the gasoline engine in two forms: directly and through the inertia of the car while breaking). Some smaller companies offer kits to transform regular hybrids into plug-ins. Why can’t big car companies do this transformation from the inception of the car???

Makes no sense!!… Do you agree, disagree or do you have any other examples of things that make no sense??

Here are some comments from Do you have the drive to be in Greentech?:

“I watched the Warren Buffet special last night on CNBC and he made it clear, "if you don't invest now, you will not come out on top". Most people don't understand that now is the time to get involved. Products are cheaper, and you can usually work out some great deals for services.”

“While there has been a bit of a shift of mindframe away from Greentech, due to the economy, I believe that there has been enough momentum and drive built up that it will push through the downturn. It also helps that the downturn seems to be hitting bottom instead of getting more severe...”

“I wanted to say I fully agree with you, despite the overall mindset. I myself have been in the industry for quite sometime now both on the investment side and the entrepreneurial”

“You are right, yet I think that comparing Greentech to the Internet Bubble is somewhat of a stretch because this is more tangible, it is more of the "Old Economy". People can calculate real ROIs and this is where I see the main challenge to industries worldwide.
Without Governments' support and incentives, the current ROI on a PV system (as an example) is completely uneconomical. Greentech has to succeed - we have no other choice so industry will come up with viable and affordable solutions that make sense”

“Personally... I think its pretty straight forward: The greentech companies that can actually make money (not just promises) will thrive and get funding. The ones that simply "paint pictures for the future" will likely not make it through the tough economy”

“The U.S. government doesn't have the drive to be in Greentech. It may talk a big game, but there's little investment for new ideas. Venture capital (at least outside of California) doesn't appear to have the drive to be in Greentech. The investors we speak to can't articulate how you generate ROI”

Until next time: SHALOM!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do you have the drive to be in Greentech?

I say: Greentech will become a major force in world economics; it will be a huge industry.

Right now, though, there is a lot of skepticism. People are focusing on the state of the economy, the safety of their investments, the availability of credit and the state of their mortgages.

So, what will it take to come on top of the Greentech wave?

We will need determined entrepreneurs. People who are determined to succeed, who will be able to balance a vision with a solid day to day operation.

Greentech entrepreneurs have to grow (just like the internet entrepreneurs did) into successful businesses people. First of all they have to overcome the image internet entrepreneurs left on their wave. Investors and fellow industry leaders will look at them with suspicion. They have to prove they are capable of running a serious business; they have to prove that money will be managed and put to good use.

Investors also have a challenge. They have to overcome the fear that the recent downfall of the economy left on their heads (and their balance sheets). Investors will also need to brush up on their science knowledge. It’s not the same to analyze a business opportunity of selling shoes online versus a business opportunity of generating energy from solar rays.

Last, but not least, government and banks will have to shift gears as well. Regulation will be the vehicle to bring this industry to life and banks will have to understand the risks involved, and have capital ready to be put to good use.

So, do YOU have the drive to be in Greentech?

I got a lot of comments from “A couple of VERY interesting videos”:

“Shai Agassi and his scalable model for the car 2.0 make diffusion of his innovation plausible. Yes, a good deal of infrastructure still needs to be put in place to make his idea work, but the story he is telling makes sense.
Saul Griffith's idea seems more of a novelty than a future reality”

"I like Agassi's talk, although I disagree strongly with his premise that one can apply Moore's Law of semiconductor electronics evolution to batteries. The world has needed a better battery since the dawn of the previous century, when Baker and other electric cars lost out to steam and ultimately to internal combustion”

“Agreed, although there is room for significant improvement in batteries, certainly from commercializing a range of nano materials, probably 2x-5x increase in power and energy density in next decade, possibly to 10x. I am aware of several projects in commercial testing that can deliver 20%-40% more than current”

“If you plot the evolution of any figure of merit related to batteries (energy density, recharging cycles, etc.), you will notice only a linear improvement over the years, if any. Certainly not a Moore-like exponential growth”

“For the second idea, I think desertec is more realistic

“If demand for electricity increases due to charging car batteries all this would mean is more coal "base-load" powered stations. There are also many inefficiencies in the transmission of energy, conversion and also in use. Plus you have the issues of short range limits. I believe at this point perhaps the idea of natural gas approach may win over in the short term. For sure in the long term the car engine will transform from combustion engine to electricity driven”

“300M vehicles / 8M vehicles per year = 37.5 years. It doesn’t sound short-term to me, and that’s not counting growth, upon which the entire economy is predicated. Further math, 300M vehicles x $50K per vehicle = $15T, plus whatever new infrastructure will be necessary, and in perspective the US GDP is $13.8T”

“One thought I have is that, even with the investment in a strategically placed network of feasible and convenient battery swapping infrastructure, before investing $20,000 in an all electric vehicle, there would have to be a critical mass of electric vehicles on the road for people to believe that it is a stable technology and here to stay. Sort of a chicken and the egg syndrome”

“1. We need to move away from driving everywhere and build societies where we can walk.
2. Private transport must be replaced by communal public transport, which is far more efficient - less traffic, less congestion, less manufacturing and therefore waste”

“It sounds as if Shai Agassi's idea is already out of the gate. India and China are ahead of the curve on Electric Vehicles. There is incredible new technology with electric motors that is going to continue to progress this model forward where you get tremendous torque with less amp draw. Thanks for the videos”

“As for wind turbines on kites, they can work to produce power. Sadly, every NIMBY group in the nation will find problems with them. They are ugly. They kill birds. The cause epileptic fits in fieldmice. If it is visible, some group will fight it until the bitter end. The legal fees alone will prevent it from ever being financially viable”

Until next time: SHALOM!