Former VP Al Gore has gone all cleantech VC, so why can’t a presidential candidate use a cleantech venture fund as a platform for election? Illinois Senator Barack Obama said on Wednesday that, if elected, he would create a ‘Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund’ backed […]

barack1.jpgFormer VP Al Gore has gone all cleantech VC, so why can’t a presidential candidate use a cleantech venture fund as a platform for election? Illinois Senator Barack Obama said on Wednesday that, if elected, he would create a ‘Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund’ backed by an annual $10 billion investment over five years. He said in a statement that the fund is “to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab and are commercialized in the U.S.”

Obama announced his overall plan on tackling technology and innovation, including creating a Chief Technology Officer position, this morning. We’re not sure of the details of the cleantech VC fund plan, but given that venture investing and handing out government grants are very different animals, the move has us scratching our heads. Would government officials lead the fund? Would the fund be looking for standard venture returns? We’re sending a bunch of questions over to the campaign, so if you have any, feel free to enter them in the comments section, and we’ll try to get them answered.

As part of his overall energy policy, Obama says he would invest the equivalent of $150 billion over the next 10 years into energy technology. The specifics are:

  • “Double federal science and research funding for clean energy projects, relying on the resources and ability of our national laboratories, universities and land grant colleges.”
  • “Invest in the development of the next generation of biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol.” (Good idea to stay away from corn ethanol!)
  • “Increase the resources devoted to the commercialization and deployment of low-carbon coal technologies.”
  • “Invest in a digital smart energy grid.”
  • “Use innovative measures to dramatically improve the energy efficiency and stability of our economy and improve our national energy intensity 50 percent by 2030.”
  1. Is Obama talking to Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of Break Through (the book) fame? If not, they should be because this sounds very similar to their recent article in the New Republic (24Sep07):

    “Our priority, then, should be a five- or ten-fold increase in investment in clean enegy — broadly defined to include R&D, deployment, procurement, education, and infrastructure — from less than $3 billion per year to $15 to 30 billion.”

    Sounds to me like Obama is considering a combination of a domestic OPIC-like venture combined with a NIH-like approach for clean energy R&D. A cabinet position for technology czar is long overdue.


  2. [...] in U.S. policy, which is unlikely to happen before January 2009, when a new president takes office (bringing $10 billion in funding), a new breed of environmental company is likely to emerge over the next few years. They’ll [...]

  3. [...] so we need to take responsibility for helping clean their energy supply up. How to cut a deal? The current meme is that the EU and US should devote some amount of money from $30 billion $1 trillion for clean [...]

  4. [...] Fuel Promotion Act, Obama has recently moved to the greener side with his proposed “Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund.” Oh and we can’t forget the Republicans, especially since when we chose Huckabee as [...]

  5. [...] Obama is moving in the cleantech direction with his plans for a “Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund,” which he said would be created “to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab [...]

  6. [...] reverse the trend of terrorism and focus America’s strength in the right things – healthcare, cleantech, poverty, world peace… just a random thought from someone who has no say in the issue anyway [...]

  7. [...] Clean Energy Subsidies: A nebulous mix of energy options, each candidate’s definition of “clean energy” varies. Clinton wants an “Apollo-like project” for clean energy and wants to fund solar, wind, plug-in hybrid, and biofuels with $50 billion in tax breaks cut from the coal and oil sectors. This would help meet her goal for 25 percent of the electric grid to be powered by renewables by 2030 (Obama wants the same, but by 2025). Obama wants to put $150 billion into clean energy over the next decade and develop a Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund. [...]

  8. [...] Venture Capital Plan: Obama’s cleantech venture capital plan entails doling out $150 billion over 10 years to fund projects in a broad swath of cleantech [...]

  9. [...] PHEVs will have support from Washington. Still, he worries that McCain’s battery prize and Obama’s cleantech fund give the impression that more research needs to be done before we can electrify our cars. “We [...]

  10. Jason Leher Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    I’m surprised to hear support for biofuel.
    Energy that goes into the grid and energy to power cars are two different things, and biofuel is an application that cheifly applies to cars. It isn’t the best solution because 100% electric cars are an ideal system because the infrastructure is already there and the efficiency of not having a power plant under the hood makes them inherently more viable than any other propulsion idea, not to mention that much of the energy for the cars is already being produced because most charging would be done at night, taking advantage of all the extra grid power.
    This means that the energy issue is squarely on the level of the grid, making biofuel (and all its downfalls) pointless unless its implemented at that level.


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