Investors who take the long view

California’s cleverest venture capitalists are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into companies researching green tech, according to Reuters.

Although commercial success could take years, venture capitalists are pouring cash into solar power, fuel cells, wind energy, biofuels, new lighting microchips, “smart” power grids, and other innovative energies.

“The best brains in the country are no longer working on the next pharmaceutical drug or the next Silicon Revolution. They want to work on energy,” said Vinod Khosla, a top venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.

While there is competition from Canada, Germany, China, India and other nations, traditional energy companies have been relatively quiet.

“It is under-researched. There are easy pluckings. Oil companies spend no money on research, especially outside of how you discover more oil. All their efforts are token or nominal. The same is true of the coal business,” Khosla said.

These are the same people who poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the silicon snake-oil of the first Internet bubble, but presumably that means they’ll be a little more shy the second time. Furthermore, a company working on, say, fuel-cell technology will have an actual physical product of some kind in a lab, not just a young CEO with a shifty business plan and a lot of clever jargon. Green technology is, ultimately, something you can hold in your hands.

The main reason to put money into companies without immediate prospects of commercialization is that you believe they’re going to pay off really big in the long run. Good news, that.

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