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Katie Benner

VCs Think Cleantech Is a Dirty Word

Katie Benner explores the reasons venture capitalists are now skittish about clean technology startups.
An art installation that was made by using glass tubes by Solyndra.

An art installation that was made by using glass tubes by Solyndra.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The world may have come one step closer to a global climate pact when the U.S. and China recently announced a deal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over the next decade and beyond. With potentially far-reaching consequences for alternative energy demand, it seems like just the push needed to encourage venture capitalists to invest in clean technologies like solar energy. Indeed, the government says it’s made money on its loans to renewable energy companies, and the results may help congressional pushes to fight climate change.

But it’s hard to believe the agreement can revive venture capital interest in a sector that’s tripped up lots of firms, including Khosla Ventures. A Khosla biofuel company, Kior, filed for bankruptcy protection this week under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.