Khosla Calls Picken's Natural Gas Vehicle Plan A Dead End


Cleantech venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has been bullish on biofuels to power vehicles, but he called wind wildcatter T. Boone Pickens’ plan to power our cars with natural gas a dead end at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Green and Clean conference on Wednesday. Khosla said natural gas could be an easy way to initially reduce transportation emissions, but because it’s a fossil fuel and emissions reductions are just around 20 percent, it’s still an interim, dead-end solution that we should not pursue.

We’re actually glad to hear that Khosla isn’t basing his opinions on just market size and costs but also on the effects of global warming. Khosla is strong believer in supporting cleantech solutions that can scale quickly and cheaply enough to deliver the solution to massive amounts of users in spots such as China and India. He said to the audience: “If you support everything, you are in fact doing us a disservice. . . . Look at the data. If there is not a high rate of return, it should not be something you support — at least not in the next five years.” Other transportation technologies that he does not support because of cost are fuel-cell-powered cars and hybrid vehicles.


Jim Pivonka

Clearly Khosla is correct, in this regardm, but irrelevant. NG is a “dead end” in the sense that the first step in any multi step process is a dead end. Pickens is VERY clear that NG is an interim step on the way to renewable energy sources.

As far as having to overhaul our energy system, we had better get used to the idea of doing that “within a few years AND on an ongoing basis”. We cannot wait until we “know” what the best overall energy system is to separate ourselves from the present disastrous reliance on petroleum as our chief transportation fuel.

Clearly the best system will be conservation first and then renewables. The technology for both has barely begun to develop. We should not “freeze” that development for the sake of avoiding the neet to refit later. And we cannot afford to wait for that technology before ending our dependance on a decreasing supply of petroleum.


Khosla is not making any sense. He say he likes biofuels, but doesn’t like NG cars. Well, NG is basically methane, which is the easiest biofuel to make from biomass.

It is true that NG is finite, but renewable methane is not. I wish he’d stop making so many idiotic claims. Khosla is turning into the M. Night Shyamalan of CleanTech; a few initial successes followed by an unending string of disappointments.

Ken Roland

Agreed . . . we may only have 150 years of natural gas available to fuel our vehicles at their present rate of consumption, but considering that converting gasoline fueled engines to natural gas is relatively inexpensive and simple to do. It would seem that this would be an immediate solution to the problem of reducing oil dependency. In further support of this “temporary” solution it would seem that it is far better to save the “patient” from bleeding to death, while a more permanent “curative” course of treatment is evolved.

Just watching

Fossil fuel is a dead end and was from the start. T. Boone wants to drill drill and get richer richer. If he was wanting to do something for our future the drill would go to the hot rocks and the fracturing technology would let us have all the steam needed to make electricity for 30,000 years.

Larry S

Khosla’s comments, rather than being narrow-minded, were practical in the sense that we have to at least look at, if not heed, the reality that significant changes to the way we use energy require considerable changes to the technology and infrastructure that utilizes a particular form of energy. According to Khosla, because natural gas only provides a 20% reduction and finite, that we should pursue longer-term solutions to avoid having to overhaul our energy system within a few years or on an ongoing basis.

I attended the event and I have to say that I cringed when he made his comments, but he presented a practical side of the argument that is rarely voiced or not often heard. And these practical implications are yet another issue that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren or take into account now as we strive to implement solutions that are viable and long lasting.

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