Silicon Valley is heading west — further west — to test out clean technologies under a deal announced yesterday. Big-name cleantech investor Khosla Ventures said it’s teaming up with Hawaiian utility Hawaiian Electric Co. on the evaluation and pilot testing of solar, lighting, battery and other technologies.
Khosla and Hawaiian Electric, part of Hawaiian Electric Industries, did not disclose any names of startups they plan to collaborate with, but said they will work together with entrepreneurs and startups, aiming to speed up the commercialization of new products and services. In a statement, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla said the partnership will help ensure that the clean energy technologies being developed can meet the demands of commercial deployment.
The sun and the waves of Hawaii have attracted a growing list of cleantech companies, including a deal that Hawaiian Electric signed just 15 days ago with California’s Better Place to build an electric car charging network on the Hawaiian islands. Earlier this year, San Diego’s HR BioPetroleum also announced a move to Hawaii, signing contracts with Hawaiian Electric and other companies to build a commercial-scale algae-to-biofuel facility on Maui.
And Khosla already has at least one Hawaiian project under its belt, backing biofuel researcher Hawaiian Bioenergy. Other partners in that biofuel firm include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and Finistere Ventures.
More cleantech deals for the Aloha State could help Hawaii reach its target of getting 70 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Hawaii agreed to the target as part of an initiative it signed with the Deparment of Energy in January.