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Earth The Almighty Buck

Venture Capitalism To the Rescue 88

Posted by kdawson
from the doing-well-by-doing-good dept.
theodp writes "Al Gore, Bill Joy, and a Norwegian cutie — a TH!NK open electric car — grace the cover of the latest NYT Magazine, which asks: Can the venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins reduce our dependence on oil, help stop global warming, and make a lot of money at the same time? While Kleiner Perkins — which funded Genentech, Netscape, Google and others — has a number of other green-tech bets, a partner says its goal is 'to make a lot of money for our investors,' not to save the environment."
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Venture Capitalism To the Rescue

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  • by shadow349 (1034412) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:16AM (#25262929)

    its goal is 'to make a lot of money for our investors,' not to save the environment."

    That's the exact same mission statement as Generation Investment Management [generationim.com].

    • Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:32AM (#25263011)

      Because too many folks in the past, wanting to do good, have started investment funds or invested in things to make a change and lost their shirts.

      By stating the obvious (to us anyway), they're letting any potential investors know that they're not going to spend money on losing propositions just to save the planet.

      I would also like to add, if they really want green investments to pay off, they should also lobby Congress to get rid of the many oil industry subsidies and tax breaks. That would make oil more expensive - actually, it should allow oil to be priced so that it reflects its true costs. The oil industry is a prime example of how tax and government subsidies can distort a market to the point that one of the most inefficient and polluting fuels had become predominant and other sources of energy have a hard time competing in the market place because of the false reduced costs imposed by Government. I think adding even more tax breaks and subsidies to an energy solution is not the way to go. We need to eliminate the current ones on oil, gas, and coal. And it will help reduce the amount in the tax code.

      • stealth tax sibsidy (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's some huge number of dollars involved-well over a trillion by now just in this decade- in keeping the military in the mideast, and I think there might be..one or two..people left who don't think it has anything to do with oil. Same with nuclear power, all the big fuss over iran is over nuclear technology once you get down to it, because the tech itself is inherently unsafe/dangerous-the potential anyway. Put those ongoing costs directly on the electricity bill from nuclear and directly on the prices

        • Hmm I thought there were only 1 or 2 people who still thought it had anything to do with OIL.

          Question, where did the trillion dollars go? You know a huge portion of it went to contractors right? Are these oil contractors? Not especially.They are the same contractors who are always involved in war... military industrial contractors.

          The end result may have something to do with oil. I prefer to believe it has more to do with opening up a brand new market for development and those contractors who get in early

          • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @12:58PM (#25265609) Journal
            I just don't think big oil is the major recipient.

            Perhaps you are un aware of the windfall profits of the major oil companies since the start of the Iraq War.

            "By just about any measure, the past three years have produced one of the biggest cash gushers in the oil industry's history. Since January of 2002, the price of crude has tripled, leaving oil producers awash in profits. During that period, the top 10 major public oil companies have sold some $1.5 trillion worth of crude, pocketing profits of more than $125 billion. [msn.com]

            "Exxon beat its own one-year-old record for the biggest corporate profits ever by 3 percent. Put together with the announcement by the No. 2 U.S. oil company, Chevron, of an $18.7 billion year, up 9 percent over 2006, plus the earlier results of Shell and ConocoPhillips, and that's more than $100 billion in profits from four companies. It's all thanks to the historic 35 percent climb in worldwide crude oil prices in the second half of 2007, ending the first week of this year when oil briefly touched $100 per barrel...Exxon Mobil's profits are 80 percent higher than those of General Electric, which used to be the largest U.S. company by market capitalization before Exxon left it in the dust in 2005. The new economy? Microsoft earns about a third as much money. And next to Exxon, the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, looks like a quaint boutique, with annual profits of about $11 billion." [usnews.com]

            Just because they aren't getting money straight from Uncle Sam like the military industrial contractors are, don't think that this war hasn't served to make oil far more profitable than ever, and don't think that is any surprise to the oil man in the Whitehouse.

      • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @10:07AM (#25263987) Homepage Journal

        Making a better than normal return on investments has always been about timing. Many a sound plan has failed because it was too early or too late.

        In the early part of the dot com era, a lot of money was invested on businesses that could not generate cash until man more people had Internet connections at home. Back in the 70's oil crisis lots of creativity was going into alternative energy and conservation technologies -- just before oil prices started to drop. When everyone knows change is coming, most people will lose money getting the timing wrong, and a few will make a lot of money.

        That's just investing.

        Now consider: if you had to have heart surgery, would you go to a doctor whose specialty was "ethically responsible surgery"? No. You'd go to a surgeon and expect him to be socially responsible. Maybe you'd want to know what his standards of ethics are and how those ethics are enforce. But you wouldn't put yourself in the hands of somebody who uses ethics as branding.

        The problem is we don't need SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE investment funds, we need socially responsible INVESTMENT funds. Social responsibility should be something a well run fund has a philosophy and strategy for, like any other aspect of investment. It shouldn't be left to specialists.

        I suspect, also, that "social investment", if I may use that term, is also a matter of timing. No investment is likely to be totally free of ethical issues, but economically driven change always happens at the margins: the next dollar spent or not spent. So if you look at a collection of investments, at any time there will be a small number of them where moving some dollars will have a big effect. Choosing to lose money everywhere means you lose money; choosing to lose money in selected places may actually mean you secure your future, since most socially "irresponsible" business practices are short sighted.

        That's investing too.

        • by FooAtWFU (699187)

          The problem is we don't need SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE investment funds, we need socially responsible INVESTMENT funds. Social responsibility should be something a well run fund has a philosophy and strategy for, like any other aspect of investment. It shouldn't be left to specialists.

          I considered a "socially repsonsible" investment fund at one point. Then I realized the thing had pathetic returns, and figured the world would be better off with me investing in broad market ETFs and donating some money to useful

          • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @01:07PM (#25265677) Journal
            I considered a "socially repsonsible" investment fund at one point. Then I realized the thing had pathetic returns

            Considering that every American taxpayer just got raped to the tune of $850 billion just two days ago, I would have to say that irresponsible investments have pretty pathetic returns as well.
            • irresponsible investments have pretty pathetic returns

              Actually they have very good returns, at least to some people. I don't hear anything about making the masters of the universe hand their bonuses back.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Now consider: if you had to have heart surgery, would you go to a doctor whose specialty was "ethically responsible surgery"? No. You'd go to a surgeon and expect him to be socially responsible.

          Ethically responsible doctor: "I must consider what's best for my patient, therefore I won't sell his kidneys on the black market, even if doing so would help younger and healthier people."

          Socially responsible doctor: "I must consider what's best for the society. This guy is not very healthy, and could easily become

    • Believe it or Not, That slogan is more of a marketing message.
      To attract investors you need to be sure that you are not making you seem like a charity where you spend you money and at best you get a bit of a tax break. This is investing your money and hopes to get a reward out of it. It isn't a bad thing. America is one of the biggest givers to charity in the world, however showing people the long term financial goal of this will help get more investment.

    • by ozphx (1061292)

      Holy shit really? Might that be because if their mission statement was "we will take your money and piss it up against a wall in an environmentally friendly manner" they would not have any capital to venture?

      I'll tell you what projects to reduce our dependance on oil are worth funding - the ones already funded by the big oil companies. Do you really think they enjoy taking it up the ass from OPEC?

      BP, for example, cold called me a couple of months back, trying to sell me solar panels.

      Every single damn one of

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:21AM (#25262963)

    Sure, the stock market's bad. Really bad. Oddly, that's what makes for very good timing here - because even though a lot of people have less money to invest, there's a lot of other folks who are looking to take their money from places they used to believe as 'safe', and put it where some of it will make money back to recover from recent failures. That includes mutual fund companies, and several other sources of megabucks.

    There's also a lot of potential researchers who can spend a lot of time on these projects, at relatively competitive rates. And a lot of existing data to pull together from university projects that individually have been starved for resources. That, and there's a slight possibility some politicians may be able to make a sane infrastructure to provide at least some support in upcoming budgets.

    Sounds like excellent timing to get a massively multiple-approach research project like this underway. It might even save a small part of our economy through the continuing troubles.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:24AM (#25262967)
    provided they take the long term view. It is no coincidence that the UK Green movement has definitely aristocratic supporters, because an aristocracy tends to think about its grandchildren (to the extent of things like planting trees that will not mature in their own lifetimes, for the sake of future generations.) I like to think that really sophisticated venture capitalists will be planning now for a comfortable retirement in 30-40 years time - and will therefore be worrying about what the world will be like then. Hedge funds are full of people with a short term attitude - anybody who shorts stocks has that - who just assume that they can accumulate so much wealth that they can insulate themselves from everything short of global meltdown. Which has just worked out so well...but real venture capitalists are an engine of progress. Without them no USA (who funded Columbus and the first colonies?), no canals, no trains, no telephone, no modern medicine.
    • I used to work for a company that was taken over by venture capitalists, it went fron bad to worse. You think they take a longer term view than hedge funds? Well you're right - they usually consider as far as the end of the current quarter. I suppose that is, technically speaking, longer than tomorrow morning.

      If the company doesn't go bust in the next few years they'll probably try to flip it to somebody else who thinks they're so much more of a genius than the current idiots who are running it - who of

    • by drew (2081)

      Saying that every one who shorts stock has a short term view is only true if you believe that all companies will increase in value in the long run. Selling SCOX short in 2002 would have been a loss in the short term, but 6 years later, it would have paid off well, assuming you had the patience to stick it out. Of course, for some people, six years is still short term. But even people investing for the long term have to think in terms of months and years. Yes, short selling is commonly used by short term

  • by Eukariote (881204) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:29AM (#25262993)

    EEStor is another interesting electric-car-related Kleiner Perkins investment http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/dealflow/archives/2005/09/kleiner_perkins_1.html [businessweek.com]. They have patented technology for super capacitors with over ten times the energy density of lead acid batteries. Being capacitors without electrochemistry, the power density (charge/discharge rates) is also very high.

    The trick is that they use a doped barium titanate dielectric with a very high permittivity structured as a sub-micron grain composite interspersed with thin Aluminum oxide and glass layers to lower the breakdown voltage. http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:EEStor [peswiki.com]. The big gain over normal capacitors happens because the energy content of a capacitor goes as the voltage square, and the overall relative permittivity exceeds 10000.

    The internal combustion engine is obsolete.

    • by shic (309152)

      The entire field of capacitive (solid-state) batteries I found very interesting. What undermines the technology, from my perspective, is that there seems to have been so little progress in the last three years.

      Are EEstor and related technologies going to be realised or are they vapourware?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eukariote (881204)
        By independent accounts they have been realized. Lockheed Martin for example has taken out a license and confirmed the performance claims that EEStor makes http://gm-volt.com/2008/01/10/lockheed-martin-signs-agreement-with-eestor/ [gm-volt.com]. When the technology will make it to the market is still a bit of an open question. In 2009, supposedly. But given the big vested interests in the oil industry, I would not be surprised if it will be delayed.
        • by shic (309152)

          I was aware that there were early adopters... but, I'm afraid, I'm a cynic.

          Given the revolutionary potential of so many applications, I find it difficult to establish why investments are so small. If the technology is ripe for production and can be demonstrated, I can't imagine it being difficult to get substantial funding and put this into mass production.

          • by Eukariote (881204)

            Given the revolutionary potential of so many applications, I find it difficult to establish why investments are so small.

            It is simply because there is far too much money power behind maintaining the status quo. The energy industry turns over thousands of billions of dollars each year. That is why electric cars have simply not been allowed to reach the market in quantity, so far. To see the lengths industry has gone through to keep us addicted to oil, I can recommend the documentary movie "Who killed the ele

    • by HungSoLow (809760)
      Obsolete?! Give me a break. I assure you for things like tractor trailers, and anything construction / work site related, we'll be using combustion engines for a very long time yet. As for personal transportation I would completely agree.
      • by ozphx (1061292)

        Decent electric motors have pretty damn high torque from zero revs.

      • by Eukariote (881204)

        Obsolete?! Give me a break. I assure you for things like tractor trailers, and anything construction / work site related, we'll be using combustion engines for a very long time yet.

        Yes, obsolete. Modern electric motors are far superior to internal combustion engines in terms of power/weight, torque, conversion efficiency, robustness, lifetime, required support systems, and RPM range. What has kept the internal combustion engine competitive nevertheless was the backward state of electric energy storage techn

    • You do realise that to turn over an appreciable percentage of the world's internal combustion engines to electric/supercapacitor will require enormous investment in barium extraction? Titanium is OK, but finding enough barium and building the plant is a huge undertaking. And your comment is backwards: energy density in real-world dielectric capacitors has always been lower than that in electrochemical batteries.

      Having worked in the past with lightning simulators, I have a fair amount of experience of differ

    • The trick is that they use a doped barium titanate dielectric with a very high permittivity structured as a sub-micron grain composite interspersed with thin Aluminum oxide and glass layers to lower the breakdown voltage.

      Bah. Why didn't they just use Rockwell Automation's Retroincabulator [youtube.com]

      Moreover, whenever fluorescent score motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocation dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration.

      -metric

  • by hattig (47930) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:33AM (#25263015) Journal

    Imagine driving on a warm summer night with the wind blowing through your hair and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature.

    Imagine crossing the road on a warm summer night, a gentle breeze blowing through your hair and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature ... and then: BAM! Hit by an electric car."

    There are some small electric cars in London, they're eerily silent.

    Just to clarify, I do think that this is a good technology and it is the future, but I am sure that there will be accidents because the cars are silent.

    • by Eukariote (881204) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:52AM (#25263063)
      The noise difference is not nearly as large over 50 km/h because then the road/tire noise starts to dominate over engine noise. Electric cars are silent only at low speeds.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dvice_null (981029)

        I've heard of many cars where dominating noise at low speeds sounds something like this "Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, ...". You can hear it clearly even when the car is stopped at traffic lights.

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        Yup, the other day I jumped when a Prius that ran electric-only sneaked up on me in the parking structure.
        They should really have a little noise generator built in, as ridiculous as that sounds at first.

    • by pjt33 (739471) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @08:18AM (#25263171)
      I saw a slot on the BBC regional news for East Anglia about 2 months ago about a project to make electric cars louder, precisely for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. They were going with the obvious solution: fit loudspeakers at the front of the car, and play a recording of an internal combustion engine.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        OMFG, please MAKE IT STOP.

        Look, if people obeyed the traffic laws, drivers and pedestrians alike, then there's no need for any of this crap. Cross the damn road at the signal and look both ways before crossing the damn street. If you're blind, get a fscking seeing eye dog or have a sighted person with you.

        Why do people have no fscking common sense?!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You can't assume a perfect system exists when so many external factors are involved. Driving is bluntly letting everybody throw thousands of pounds of steel around. Everybody... is not a promising thought. I speak to you here as someone who spent a few months in a coma and faces long term damage from being hit as a pedestrian by a woman who was distracted by the kids in her back seats. This happened immediately in front of the school I was attending at the time. Shit happens and technology needs to account

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by froon (1160919)
      One solution is to add speakers. [wired.com]
      • by hattig (47930)

        Like the Securicor vans which say "Warning! Securicor Van Reversing"?

        "Attention! Vehicle Approaching! VROOM VROOM!"
        "Warning! Vehicle Driven By Woman applying make-up Approaching!"
        "WATCH OUT! Vehicle Driven By Self-Obsessed Wanker On Mobile Phone Approaching!"

        It could get louder and faster the faster the vehicle travels, like an ice cream van.

        In addition you could get famous actors and comedians to voice the alerts.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Modern conventional cars aren't that noisy either, if they're not revving their engines flat out, it's not easy to hear their _engines_ or exhausts.

      The tire noise etc will be the same as an electric car.

      Even my 14 year old car doesn't make much noise at 2000 rpm (yes the car still works ;) ).

      Anyway, in my country you look both ways when you cross the street, even if it's a one way street - crazy motorcyclists (and some car drivers) think it's perfectly fine to travel at a brisk pace the _wrong_ way.

      Have to
      • True, I was surprised yesterday by a car (a small Peugot I think), it was going maybe 10mph in an underground car park and I hadn't heard it at all.

    • Luckily those stupid little Gwiz things, if they actually hit you at thier top speed of 30mph, would crumple around your ankles like a newpaper blowing in the wind.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fugue (4373)

      This argument has been used by Harley assholes for a long time, and it's simply not valid. It may be that louder vehicles give more clues as to their whereabouts--but if that is the case, we should be duct-taping our horns down, or building in beepers and sirens to continuously wail (or wail at variable pitch depending on speed (and direction??)).

      Don't get me wrong--I think driving should be made as unpleasant as possible in order to encourage people to use more responsible forms of transportation--but t

    • by ozphx (1061292)

      Yeah I'm in China at the moment. Almost been taken out on a daily basis by the very popular electric scooteres :S

    • by zaivala (887815)
      GM announced today that they are going to include a CD of engine noises with their Volt, due out in 2010. Crank it up, and you can avoid hitting people.
    • Just to clarify, I do think that this is a good technology and it is the future, but I am sure that there will be accidents because the cars are silent.

      Has nobody actually seen any science fiction films that show future cars? They all go 'woooooooosh', as they go by. Yeah, they have silent propulsion, but to deal with the obvious problems, the NHTSB mandated in 2012 that all cars producing less than 65dB of noise have Whooooooosh Generators installed as a safety measure.

  • Ugly (Score:2, Informative)

    by ildon (413912)

    Why do people insist on making electric cars ugly as hell?

    • by Mortiss (812218)

      Why do people insist on making electric cars futuristic as hell?

      There. Fixed that for you.

    • by bjelkeman (107902)

      I don't find these electric cars ugly:

      The Tesla is not very ugly [teslamotors.com], and the Think Ox is not to shabby [think.no] either.

      • by ildon (413912)

        You're right about the Tesla, but the Ox falls into the ugly category for me. It reminds me of the Scion Xb which I also think is ugly.

    • Not all of them [teslamotors.com]

    • With all due respect just because you think all vehicles should be rectangular boxes with wheels poking out at the bottom doesn't mean that every shares that opinion.

      I happen to be member of a rather sizable group that happen to think these vehicles are cute and/or just plain really cool. It's time to stop thinking that all vehicles need to look like scaled (or not so scaled) down versions of bread vans and semi tractors.

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@NoSpAm.gmail.com> on Sunday October 05, 2008 @07:45AM (#25263049) Homepage Journal

    The CEO is giving a speech at a board meeting: "And so, while the end-of-the-world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors, we believe that the pre-end period will be filled with unprecedented opportunities for profit."
    http://www.cartoonbank.com/product_details.asp?mscssid=G41AMWKD2J779JFDMBDRM9CAKAKJ63T5&sitetype=1&did=4&sid=52630&pid=&keyword=end+of+the+world&section=cartoons&title=undefined&whichpage=1&sortBy=popular [cartoonbank.com]

  • by rcastro0 (241450) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @08:08AM (#25263115) Homepage

    Electric Cars are coming from everywhere, in different sizes and shapes, with different concepts. Some will append the electric motor to a a ignition engine generator (making it a hybrid). Some are tricycles using solar back-up power. Others are super-sport cars. It is all very interesting.

    Back in February I was so amazed with the variety that I posted in my blog thirty different electric and hybrid cars from all over the world. From the established auto industry of Japan and the US down to individual projects, this is a really special moment for entrepreneurs, inventors and creative people. The blog post is in portuguese, but there are pictures and reference links for all 30 electric car models [simplesmente.com].

    Sorry for the plug. Cheers.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Sounds a bit like the beginning of the auto age - back then even the pedal layouts weren't standardized yet.

      Same goes for the beginning of the PC age. The PCs in the 1970s-1980s were very different from each other.
      • by Yoozer (1055188)
        I think the electric small/lightweight/trike cars are more akin to the rise of the netbooks such as the Eee PC - the realization that for certain tasks less space is adequate (and even preferable). I'd love a 1-2 passenger car like the Volkswagen 1L - stability, streamline and a roof over your head solves what motorcycles don't, while taking up less space and consuming less, but we'll have to wait until 2010.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Electric Cars are coming from everywhere, in different sizes and shapes, with different concepts. Some will append the electric motor to a a ignition engine generator (making it a hybrid). Some are tricycles using solar back-up power. Others are super-sport cars. It is all very interesting.

      And they will all go straight to Europe, Asia, and even South America. But I tell you not a bloody one of them will ever see large deployments here in the US. The market has been brainwashed against them, the laws and regulations are stacked against them, and the US has a failing Ford, GM, and Chrystler. The best the US will get is a 10-20% fuel economy increase on its passenger vehicles. In fact the US has already received an installment on that very thing with the 2008/09 model years.

      Even in the high

      • Well, perhaps things are turning. I remember reading that GM is counting on a heavy subsidy for their Volt, in the order of $7-8k, to make it more attractive. I think the transition is inevitable as the technology becomes better suited.
    • Is there likely to be a cultural problem in the USA with electric cars being smaller than most internal combustion engine cars? Will there be a low take up in the USA due to the vehicles not being macho enough? Wondering if anybody can tell me what sort of take up there is in the US for other small (gasoline powered) cars that we have lots of in Europe, like the Smart car, or other small hatchbacks. In Europe the US is seen as loving really big vehicles, sometimes more powerful than people actually need (e.

      • Is there likely to be a cultural problem in the USA with electric cars being smaller than most internal combustion engine cars?

        Yes. If it looks like Detroit had no hand in its design(by its cheapness/smallness being a non-Detroit element), has less than 5-6 cylinders(GM tried with the Quad-4 resulting in worse performance for higher-rated versions), and only drops below $20000 used, there is a cultural problem.

        You still have a sizable and non-ignorable audience that wants to see the return of affordable land yachts. They would rather have a revamped version of the 1990's Impala SS/Classic or even try to get an Police Interceptor

  • It's too bad for the all the small private companies that have been investing in green vehicles. The government just gave the big guys $25 billion dollars to retrofit their plants to make "more efficient" vehicles. It's hard to compete against free government money. This waste will contribute to more problems in the future. Why make a risky bet on alternative energy? Just invest in the same old inefficient technologies, and then when it's way too late to switch over, the government will bail you out.

  • Good thing the hyperlink wasn't on the Norwegian Cutie part or some readers may have been tricked into clicking on the article before realizing it's a car. Actually I bet some of us still were...
    • by mevets (322601)

      You saved me from an embarrassing post...

      • by alex4u2nv (869827) *

        I'm confused....

        Where is the cutie?!??!!!

        On a side note, if the Norwegian cutie is the car. Then that image advertisement with 5 old men trying to get into her is disgusting! (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/05/magazine/05cover-395.jpg)

  • Unfortunately, the best projects in Green Tech may never get funded, because most VCs look for 5 to 1 returns in 18 months, and some projects, surprisingly, take longer than that to monetize.
    • Monetize means to make something into a currency, not turn a profit. Doesn't anybody learn economics 101 nowadays?

      And 5 to 1 return in 18 months? Er, depends on the size of the stake and the expected life of the company. No simple rule here.

      • by Trip6 (1184883)
        Thanks so much for the uncalled-for insult. The actual word to use is fungible, but I wanted to use a word that was more readily understood. You knew what I meant but just had to show you were smart, right? The point of the 18 months is that there is a strict bar on $$$ return that has nothing to do with what might turn out to be an interesting and profitable project but takes longer to develop.
  • No, this isn't another "Global Warming doesn't exist" troll. This is about energy. Electricity, specifically. It has to be generated somehow. Sure, hydro, wind, and solar are great sounding ideas. To some extent, they already work, and no doubt can be made better if investment is done in R&D, and deployment, for those technologies. But, imagine something on the order of 100 million cars which need to be charged, possibly twice or thrice, every day. That is a massive amount of electricity which is not cu

    • by IrquiM (471313)

      Well.... Think is a Norwegian car, and Norway produces the most hydroelectric power in Europe. Sure, we close down the plants during the night to get cheap coal electricty from mainland Europe, but during the day, it's mostly hydroelectric.

      Another way to get clean fuel is to use atomic energy. Yeah, wast is an issue, but it's still clean in the climate discussion.

      A thrid thing to consider is that oil and coal plants are cleaner than the cars, and it's also easier to caputre CO2 from a plant than the cars dr

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Well. . . those seem like reasonable answers.

        There's still the economic argument - if a lot of people start using electric cars, we will likely go through at least a period of time where electricity costs increase due to the increased demand. It might be that over time, new power plants will come online, which might reduce the cost, but I'm very afraid of what electric vehicles will do to electricity prices in the US, if they ever become popular.

        • by IrquiM (471313)

          True, but as I said here in Norway, we actually turn off the hydropower during night, because we can import it cheaper from those plants you cannot turn off (nuclear, coal, etc.) which haven't got the same demand during night as they do during the day. I guess the same would go for charging your car during the night in US as well. Your plants produce the same amount of electricity during night as during the day, but it's all a waste, since the need is not the same.

          Just something to think about. If they woul

          • Charging cars at night sounds great but. . .

            I get up in the morning, my cars all charged up. Great. So, now I'm ready to drive to work, which might be a 40 or 50 mile commute. My car might have a maximum electric range of 60 or 70 miles, say. So, I get to work, but my car batteries are almost dead. I'd sure like to be able to plugin at work, so that 8 hours later, when I'm done working, I can drive home. But that means charging my car during the day as well as at night.

            If my car is a hybrid, I can at least

          • by JSBiff (87824)

            You know, I'm just thinking - your comment about them turning off the hydro plants at night made me think of something - if someone can ever come up with high-temperature superconductors, it occurs to me that Norway and the other European countries might be able to have a nice way to make some additional import revenue by selling their excess hydro power to the US, Canada, and Central/South America, and maybe parts of Asia(?). I believe, because of timezone differences, it's still afternoon and evening in t

  • Oil companies are spending the most on alternative energies, really. They're just not really interested in selling them until the oil's all gone.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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