Around ten years ago, engineers created a new way to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, inventing "solar panels, clean cars, and futuristic batteries." The new way came to be known as "Cleantech."
Excited about the possibility of job creation and a new way to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, President Obama committed $150 billion in loans, grants, and tax breaks to Cleantech. The innovation however, once promised to present breakthroughs in the energy sectors, instead brought a series of costly breakdowns, funded by taxpayers.
CBS’ Lesley Stahl interviewed Vinod Khosla, known as the father of the Cleantech revolution. He invested more than $1 billion of his own money into around 50 energy startups. Khosla’s green gasoline, of which he boasts is "clean," is also more than what consumers pay for regular gasoline. His company, KiOR is currently experiencing huge deficits and the manufacturing process is too complex, causing delays.
Former Energy Department Secretary, Physicist Steven Koonin, weighed in on the the Cleantech disaster on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Asked by interviewer Lesley Stahl if Cleantech is dead, Koonin responded "There are parts of it that I would say are on life support right now."
Stahl also interviewed Pin Ni, who autoparts company Wanxiang made six large investments in Cleantech, including buying A123, an electric car battery startup that lost over $130 million.
Ni chuckled when informed by Stahl that that many of the companies he bought in Cleanteach received huge sums of federal subsidies. Among the companies that received subsidies are A123, Ener1, and Smith Electric Trucks. Despite his brazen response to her question, Ni did admit that "Cleantech is not going well."
The entire 60 Minutes segment is available below: