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Clean Tech, Uncategorized

Alternative Energy or Energy Conservation?

On LinkedIn there is an Silicon Valley Bank Alumni Group. It’s got 178 members and we haven’t really tried to market the group. This morning, I saw an intriguing question that was posted by Jeff Huhn. Jeff now has an important job at Bank of the Cascades. Here’s the question…What will be a bigger market success in the next 10 years – alternative energy development or energy conservation products?

It’s an intriguing question that I’ll forward to my partner, Chris Bodnar. Chris has forgotten more about alternative energy products than I’ve ever known. Perhaps I can get Chris to do a guest blog to give his insights?

What strikes me is not only the importance of the question but also the timing. I remember getting my driving license just as OPEC was beginning to flex its muscles in 1980. We all remember waiting in long lines to get high priced gas that was a direct result of the cartel’s formation. If you had an odd number at the end of your license plate, you could only get gas on odd days…you get the idea, there was a manufactured shortage to drive up prices. Most people thought OPEC wouldn’t survive because cartels are historically unstable – too much of an incentive for one country to cheat and release more oil into the system to drive up their own revenues. OPEC has clearly survived and controls 79% of the world crude oil reserves. How is it that we’ve done essentially nothing to diversify ourselves from fossil fuel?

Consider your car. It has seen several improvements since the early 1980’s. Essentially every part that moves in some cars is controlled by a motor. Stereo systems, climate control, horse power, steering and braking systems have undergone significant improvements. Our gas mileage has not. The gas mileage of a 1980 Honda Civic was 29 MPG in the city and 35 on the highway. Today, the Honda Civic gets 24 in the city and 36 on the highway. Even the Civic Hybrid only gets 40 and 45 respectively…that’s not much of an improvement. It’s a far cry from the United States having an energy independence policy.

We are just now starting to see some investment in clean technologies. Obviously we need both alternative energy development AND energy conservation products. Stay tuned for Chris Bodnar’s answer to Jeff’s question…

Tim O’Loughlin

Eastward Capital Partners

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c: (617) 947-6272

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Eastward Capital Partners – providing $1 – 10 million venture debt, growth capital and equipment financing to venture-backed, emerging growth companies since 1994. We also provide expansion capital to non venture backed companies.


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Tim O’Loughlin

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