My Clean Break column today is largely based on a recent telephone interview I had with Vinod Khosla at Khosla Ventures (and a partner with Kleiner Perkins). Our discussion was mostly about the difference between types of clean technology investments, and Khosla makes a distinction between “good green investments” (i.e. solar, batteries, biodiesel, etc…) and “climate solutions,” the latter being the kind of breakthrough technologies or approaches that have the potential to directly challenge the dominance of coal and oil, and in a big way. This isn’t new to many who have followed Khosla (he is, after all, all over the U.S. media and quite vocal about his views), but the veteran venture capitalist sees solar thermal power and ethanol as true climate solutions. I don’t deal with ethanol in the column but instead focus on the benefits of solar thermal. I also touch on Khosla’s belief that we need to invest heavily in a high-voltage continental grid that can allow us to take advantage of renewables on a large scale, otherwise we’re just “playing with toys.”
As an aside, I should mention I got a chance to read a draft of a white paper Khosla has written that details why he invests in certain areas and the differences, in his view, between a green investment and climate solution. It’s a compelling read, and offers more understanding of his controverial views on (and support of) ethanol. I’m sure he’ll be publicly releasing a final version of this white paper soon.