Richard Smalley will be a witness at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing on the sustainable low-emission generation of electricity today (Wednesday 28th April) in Washington DC. Readers who have been lucky enough to see Professor Smalleys talks on the need to bridge the terawatt energy gap, will understand how most of the issues involved with supplying renewable energy are materials, and therefore nanotechnology related.
The timing of the hearing, coming a day after Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned that the “dramatic" rise of oil and gas futures was "an economic event that can significantly affect the long-term path of the US economy", could hardly have been more significant.
Renewable energy brings together two of the hottest current investment segments, nanotechnology and clean tech. While pundits have long been predicting that nanotechnology will attract a billion dollars a year in VC funding, clean tech has been attracting that for the past two years.
It really brings home a fundamental point about investing in nanotechnology. No one invests solely in a technology; they look at its applications. Nanosolar, Nanosys, Konarka and a host of other companies are all powering ahead making flexible solar cells comparable in price and efficiency to silicon ones.
We’ll stick our necks out and predict that if the Nanosys IPO goes smoothly, one of the next wave will be a clean (nano)tech company.