Water is the Petroleum of the 21st Century
This point stuck out to me more than most others at the Austin Clean Energy Venture Summit yesterday, though there were plenty of progressive thoughts at the event, which connects early stage companies with funding sources.
Water replacing petroleum as the key resource for the next 100 years makes a lot of sense, which an executive from SecureWaters explained followed by the president of Omni Water Solutions. Besides the fact that it is required for just about everything and worldwide population is exploding, it is the key ingredient in the natural gas boom, as more than 250 billion gallons of water are used by the oil and gas industry for fracking purposes. Fracking has its share of controversies, though consider it the shovel of the natural gas boom if this was a gold rush, so I don't think it's going away any time soon. Several companies presented today to capitalize on the market, including Omni Water Solutions, which explained that new natural gas reserves will generate enough to heat 270 million homes per year.
Bob Metcalfe, who is considered an Internet legend after co-creating Ethernet, gave the lunch keynote and cracked me up as he explained he was on the board of the company that created PowerPoint and sold to Microsoft for $14 million, yet he still uses index cards when speaking. Though don't let that fool you, he is clearly all about innovation and, after inventing one of the core components of the Internet, he is now working as a professor at the University of Texas helping students develop the key skills to be an entrepreneur, which he said are writing, selling and speaking. He also gave a good explanation of why the pace of the clean energy industry isn't going as fast we'd like.
There was only one solar company, which is different from what people were seeing a few years ago. One company today that I thought showed a lot of promise was Clear Technology Systems, which already has $90 million in contracts and has developed lead recycling technology, which took 13 years to develop. The executive explained that lead is the number one pollutant in the world and between 18-22 million people are affected by lead poisoning worldwide - and most of them are children. I've written about lead poisoning before, so I was happy to see a company jumping on this problem.
LED lighting was the dominant market addressed today, and automotive technologies still seem to be big, and we'll definitely be seeing a lot of more of these here in Austin, especially with Formula 1 coming to Austin, which a colleague explained to me today.
The event was well attended, as always - and it'll be neat to see which companies end up making it in the long run.