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Today in Green IT: How to measure cleantech success

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Last week cleantech venture capitalist Vinod Khosla answered critics of cleantech investing by proclaiming that Khosla Ventures had netted a billion dollars in profits from now-tradable shares. But for an industry with a moral imperative — to free the U.S. from the security risks associated with its dependence on fossil fuels and to save the earth from global warming — should we be measuring the success of an investment purely based on IPO exits? That’s the question posed by our GigaOM Pro Green IT analyst Adam Lesser, in his weekly column.

Adam points out that if anything, the monofocus on IPO exits could be leading to some dangerous behavior for cleantech as a whole, with companies pushing to raise money in public markets well before there’s evidence that a viable business exists. Read the rest of his column here (subscription required). Here’s what else Adam is writing on and thinking about this week:

  • The IEA is right to point out that the $409 billion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2010 are creating real problems in terms of managing energy demand, and also making it very difficult for renewable energy to compete.
  • Solar-panel firms’ outlook dims: The Wall Street Journal profiles the problems in solar. The S&P’s Global Clean Energy Index is down 41 percent for the year. Amazing how companies still are filing for IPOs in this climate. The valuations must be awful.
  • Renewable energy: Subsidy cuts cause crisis of confidence: Spain got a third of its power in 2010 from renewable sources, a pretty significant accomplishment. But it is now struggling with its own tariff rollbacks in solar, along with Germany and Italy.