Thursday, December 3, 2015

Big-name VCs join Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos in their new 'Breakthrough Energy Coalition'

Well, good luck to them, and I mean that sincerely.
The essence of the problem of energy/alt-energy is simply that the numbers involved are so damn huge.
That at least is what you'll take away from reading Cambridge Professor David  Mackay's Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air which we first linked to in April 2007.

I've gotten to the point in life that if someone wants to talk energy with me and they haven't taken the time to read the book I assume that I am being confronted by a blathering blowhard who might be simply wonderful in other aspects of life but are time wasters on energy.

So, being the charitable sort, I say "If one is to have any hope of getting this stuff right over the long run I suggest David J.C. MacKay".

From our April 27, 2014 post "If It's April It Must Be Time to Visit Professor MacKay and His Map of the World":
...If you want to know more about what's going on with the map, do visit his map page.
MacKay used to hang his hat at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory.
I don't really know what they do at the lab, I think it's where the Nobel Prize in Physics is made.

Mackay left the lab in 2013 to be the University's first Regius Professor of Engineering.
He has a bunch of letters after his name....MORE
Here's MacKay's webpage.
And his Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air is free online. 
Read his book.

Today's headline story. from UPSTART:
 Several Silicon Valley venture investors were among the billionaires who promised in Paris on Monday to fund cleantech startups as part of Bill Gates' new Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
But the pledge by Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures and John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers comes at a time that their firms and the venture community in general have dramatically scaled back investing in the sector.

Their Menlo Park firms have been by far the most active investors in the sector, according to research by PitchBook Data. Khosla has done 80 cleantech deals since 2004 and Kleiner Perkins is just behind that total with 78.

They are also the only firms that invested in more cleantech deals in the past 11 years than the U.S. Department of Energy, which did 61 deals.

But both have tapered their activities in since 2011, the year that Fremont-based solar panel maker Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, a watershed moment that sharply curtailed enthusiasm for cleantech on Sand Hill Road.

Khosla's investments in the sector peaked at 15 in 2010 and Kleiner Perkins hit its peak a year later with 16 in 2011.

Both Kleiner Perkins and Khosla have done only a handful of deals annually more in recent years. They did three apiece last year and only one each so far this year, according to PitchBook, with Kleiner Perkins backing Milpitas-based solar cell company Solexel in August and Khosla backing Michigan-based lithium battery company Sakti3 in March.

Another prominent Bay Area VC that is part of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, whose firm did seven cleantech investments — all before the Solyndra bankruptcy....MORE
We most recently visited Mr. Gates six weeks ago in "Bill Gates: ‘We Need an Energy Miracle’".
That post has a lot of back-links if one should be inclined to do a quick review.
In addition May 27's "Vaclav Smil On Energy: 'Revolution? More like a crawl'" is a good look at one of Mr. Gates' advisors.

By the way, in his 2010 review of MacKay's book Mr. Gates said  "this is one of the best books on energy that has been written".

Yes, we beat him to it but I'm guessing Gates was busy with something else at the time we linked.

See also "UPDATED--Why Google Gave Up On Their Renewables-For-Less-Than-Coal Program (RE < C )"  for some of the challenges.

Here are some of  the founding members of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, they certainly have a lot of money:

Mukesh Ambani
Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Limited

HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Alwaleed Philanthropies
Saudi Arabia

Ray Dalio
Founder, Bridgewater Associates
United States

Aliko Dangote
Founder and Chief Executive, Dangote Group

Jack Ma
Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group

Hasso Plattner
Co-founder and Chairman, SAP

Julian Robertson
Founder and Chairman, Tiger Management
United States

Masayoshi Son
Founder, Chairman and CEO, SoftBank Group Corp.

George Soros
Chairman, Soros Fund Management LLC
United States

Ratan Tata
Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons

And quit a few more Davos A-listers.