Global environmental challenges
What venture capitalists really think and what they say aren’t always the same thing.
The man who famously invested $300,000 for a 30 percent stake in Hotmail and made $250 million for his VC firm when Microsoft bought the company two years later says there is an “explosion of possibilities” of synthetic genetics in clean tech.
A professor at the University of Delaware has patented a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology for parked electric vehicles to return power to the grid and teamed up with NRG Energy to commercialize it.
Professor Willett Kempton, who has been testing V2G technology that lessens the load on natural gas plants, told the New York Times utilities would not be interested in buying electricity from individual cars but from groups of perhaps 100 vehicles.
As the market for applications running on mobile devices like Apple’s iPad and iPhone grows, so do ways to save you money and cut your carbon emissions.
Among them is Avego, a ride-sharing app for the iPhone that lets you offer vacant seats in your car to others and search for free seats if you’re car-less, all in real time. You receive updates on how far away your ride is, so you don’t have to wait around. And it even calculates how much gas-money each passenger should pay. Users create a publicly viewable Avego profile and their reputation can be rated by other members. Paul Smith of Triple Pundit calls the service “brilliant” and an example of “what can be done to reduce traffic, right now, at no additional cost and disruption to our current transportation infrastructure”.
-- Tom Lyon is the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, and Peter Adriaens is a professor of entrepreneurship at the Zell Lurie Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies, both at the University of Michigan. The views expressed are their own. --
President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech, called for America to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” But who is the competition, exactly? Who is presenting “our generation’s Sputnik moment”? Who are we racing against to put a million electric vehicles on the road? The president’s answer: China.
Environmentalists have long used Google Earth to keep tabs on mountaintop mining and to monitor deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Now with the release Monday of the latest version of Google’s virtual world maps, they’ll be able to literally see the trees in the forest — in 3D.
Among other new features, Google Earth 6 has initially mapped more than 80 million trees in seven cities, from olive groves in Athens to the flowering dogwoods of Tokyo. Viewers can also fly through a section of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
With half a million signatures backing it up, Greenpeace fired off a letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg today calling for the world’s largest social network to cut ties to coal-fired power at its new data center in Oregon.
“Other cloud-based companies face similar choices and challenges as you do in building data centers, yet many are making smarter and cleaner investments,” executive director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, writes. He points to Google and its a recent agreement to buy wind power from NextEra Energy for the next 20 years to power its data centers.
Do you know how much of your beloved BlackBerry can be absorbed back into nature? Have you envisioned the end-of-life plan for your precious new iPad? Considered cradle-to-cradle care for your webcam?
High-tech entrepreneurs Marc Aelbrecht, Jean-Pierre D’Haese and Xavier Petre are betting that if you haven’t factored these questions into your purchasing choices yet, you soon will — and you’ll go looking for companies like theirs.
Newsweek, encroaching on territory usually mined by activist groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, has unveiled its innaugural NEWSWEEK Green Rankings, which ranks the 500 biggest U.S. companies based on their “actual environmental performance, policies, and reputation.”
The magazine pointed out that compiling such a list was a challenge “because comparing environmental performance across industries is a bit like analyzing whether Tiger Woods or LeBron James is the world’s greatest athlete—there’s an inevitable apples-and-oranges element.”
High-tech giants from Microsoft to Google are eager to cut the huge amounts of power used to run their data centers, particularly now that the recession has companies leaving no stone unturned to slash costs and global warming is driving them to think green.