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Don't Believe the Hype... in Lithium-Ion Batteries

In the words of that dynamic duo of Chuck D & Flava Flav, DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!  Well, that is sort of what Vinod Khosla said recently about the potential of lithium ion batteries at the AlwaysOn Summit at Stanford.  And why should you listen to this Mr. Khosla, you may ask.  Well, this is the man who founded Sun Microsystems and is one of the top investors in clean technology.  For example, he currently is a major investor in both Sakti3 and Seeo, two lithium ion start ups.

Vinod Khosla Questions Lithium Ion Batteries

The problem, according to Khosla, is that lithium ion batteries are still cost restrictive.  In an interview with GoodCleanTech Khosla states, “The most important thing to remember is economic gravity — the cheapest thing ends up winning.”  The only way that lithium batteries will become cost competitive is if oil jumps to $150 a barrel.  (Which is a very real possibility once the global economy rebounds.)  

So then what is the solution?  Khosla does not know.  He dismisses both hybrids and electric cars because of each technology's shortcomings.  Hybrids reduce greenhouse emissions the less than painting your house's roof white.  Electric cars will merely be pushing the carbon down the line to the coal power plants that will power the cars.

Khosla believes that the solution to global warming is not even in existent yet.  Clean technology is in its infancy and like internet technology the real game changer will be unexpected.  Recall, that in the early 90's most experts believed the internet would be interactive television.  No one could have predicted the browser.  What Khosla says is most beneficial to the industry is subsidies provided by both the American and European governments.  These subsidies will unleash creative power and allow these countries to take the lead in the lucrative markets.