I’m proud to call Dr. David Doty a friend; he’s a man with a great heart, as well as an even greater intellect — and I eagerly learn like a sponge when I’m around him. But I also try to supply advice where I think I can add value, which is on the business side.
Windfuels, Dr. Doty’s concept of synthesizing high-quality gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from off-peak wind energy, is his primary focus at this point in his career. This is an enterprise for which he’ll need investors to come on board to support the construction of pilot plants of increasing sizes, along the way to scaling Windfuels to massive proportions. But what sort of people should these investors be?
I suggest that a key characteristic is that they actually care about the impact of a carbon-neutral approach to fuel. This is especially important here, because this will definitely NOT be a quick buck. The beauty of Windfuels isn’t that it’s a feel-good, silver bullet short-cut to a green future, but rather that it’s real; it’s not a delusion.
The truth is that no easy solution to the world energy picture exists. Indeed, the vast majority of the things we discuss in the day-to-day world of cleantech have huge deal-breaker characteristics that lie under the surface, unseen by most people whose understanding of physics and chemistry is fairly surface-level. For instance, look at the fact that the world is consuming 80 million barrels of crude oil per day. Then look at the consumption of resources in terms of land, water, fertilizer, etc. (each of which competes against the production of the world food supply) that would be necessary to get biofuels to the point that it would be making a meaningful dent in that 80 million gallons. It’s pretty far-fetched.
When you look at the actual hard science associated with a great deal of what we’re doing here in supplying power to a rapidly expanding population of energy-hungry consumers, most of these ideas really don’t hold water. Windfuels is complex, and it’s working at only laboratory scale. Investors need to understand and come to terms with that. It’s not a quick buck, but it has one rare and beautiful characteristic: it’s real.