Barack Obama Would Create Cleantech VC Fund

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.”