KR Sidhar On The Energy Crisis

March 1, 2007

At the most recent ETL session which was part of Stanford’s eWeek we had quite a few big-name speakers, including KR Sidhar, the CEO of Bloom Energy. This is the second time I’ve seen him speak at Stanford and I was just as impressed as I was the first time.

I like him because he is able to articulate some of the subtler points and often takes a pseudo-contrarian stance on issues; he sees things and is willing to say things that other people aren’t. For example, a high-profile issue during yesterday’s session was the global energy problem—both the climate crisis/global warming and the lack of access to clean energy (or energy at all) that plagues the bottom third of the world’s population.

The session’s format was supposed to be that of a dinner conversation, so analogies were flying left and right about apetizers and main courses. Most of the speakers agreed that in order to solve the energy problem we need to pass on our apetizers. We need to share the wealth, so to speak, with those in other countries who do not have access to clean energy. KR was last to speak, and what he said was basically that he would NOT choose to skip his apetizer. Instead, he would find a way to have his apetizer AND give those people without access to clean energy a way to get it. He emphasized that THAT is this generation’s challenge—to find a way to create sustainable energy for all.

Along the same lines, he cited a very interesting and consequential statistic: three months worth of the Sun’s total energy is more than all the energy we’ve ever used on Earth from all other sources combined. In other words, if we can somehow find a way to efficiently harness the Sun’s power, the global energy crisis will effectively be solved.

It makes me wish I was more invovled in the energy field these days. It seems like the energy crisis is presenting our generation with the kind of opportunities that the Internet gave Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs in the 90’s.

On a completely unrelated note, something else he said makes for a great soundbite:

“As an entrepreneur I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a capitalist.”

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