Friday, July 18, 2008

Google chimes in as U.S. Senate explores investment in clean energy



With high fuel prices and a troubled credit market dragging down the U.S. economy, why is now the right time for more investment in breakthrough energy technology?

Earlier this week, Google.org's Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, Dan Reicher, offered an answer to that question at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The session examined important legislation aimed at making it easier for clean and energy efficient technologies to get the funding they need to make it from the drawing board to the mainstream, where they can make a real impact on our economy and energy security.

Dan's testimony focused on two points. First, he argued that legislation aimed at spurring clean technology deployment must focus on financing promising high-risk projects in their early stages, so that they make it through the investment "Valley of Death" between the pilot project stage and full-scale commercial implementation. Second, he explained that a secondary market for energy project loans, and government-sponsored loan guarantees would make lending in this space more attractive.

Dan proposed that the two current pieces of legislation, offered separately by Chairman Jeff Bingaman and Ranking Member Pete V. Domenici, could be combined to move this issue forward.

1 comment:

Jake de Grazia said...

Why should the government provide this kind of financing and not private investors?

I mean I understand in theory that since the markets aren't perfect, we might be smart to meddle a bit to level the playing fields, but I worry about the government's definition of "promising."

There must be thousands of projects that could be supported, all of which probably have reasonable arguments why their technologies are THE magic beans, and the government can't finance them all. Who make the investment decisions? How are they made? And do these people have successful track records?

Sorry to be skeptical. I would absolutely love to see the best of these technologies get to market and make their contributions to the energy revolution, but I have some fears about the government's ability to make good investments.