Software Guru: Clean Technology Bigger than Internet

May 16, 2007

A global response to climate change will spur a business revolution bigger than the Internet, says co-founder of Sun Microsystems Bill Joy.

"This is a much larger opportunity," he told Reuters, pointing to the scale of the problem and the profits to be made from simple steps like a more careful use of energy.

"It's profitable to be more efficient, it has a negative cost and a competitive disadvantage if you don't do it.

"You can sensibly adopt old technology, not drive a truck, or insulate your house," he said, speaking on the fringes of the Cleantech investor conference in Frankfurt.

Joy made his name creating and developing computer operating systems and microprocessors, for example helping to design the Java programming language.

Most scientists agree that climate change is being caused by mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases, especially the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

Using the example of the car industry, Joy saw the response in three parts: first using old technologies like smaller, more efficient cars; second adopting emerging technologies like "hybrid," part-electric cars; and third researching breakthroughs such as transport fuels derived from farm waste.

Climate change would spur innovation and California's Silicon Valley, which originally served the semiconductor industry, was well placed to benefit, he said.

"Solar cells are semiconductors, heat to electricity is semiconductors, software to manage systems comes out of Silicon Valley," said Joy, who is now a partner at venture capital investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

A global race is on to be first to commercialize breakthrough technologies which could make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Research into safer, rechargeable lithium batteries is taking place mainly in the United States and Canada, but innovation in small electric cars is centered in Asia and Europe, he said.

"Smart people are everywhere."

Future breakthroughs will include more efficient solar cells that convert waste heat to electricity, and manipulation of catalysts at the ultra-tiny, or nano, scale to cut costs.

Climate change will create business losers, too: for example among U.S. car manufacturers which have resisted fuel efficiency standards, Joy reckoned.

"They lobbied Washington against innovation. The industry is now really in trouble, the car companies didn't innovate. Everyone's basically driving a truck."

Copyright 2007 by Ziff Davis Media, Distributed by United Press International

Explore further: Special ops troops using flawed intel software

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Robot revolution will change world of work

Mar 24, 2015

Robots will fundamentally change the shape of the workforce in the next decade but many industries will still need a human touch, a QUT Future of Work Conference has heard.

Recommended for you

Amazon says FAA drone approval already obsolete

14 hours ago

The approval federal aviation officials gave Amazon.com last week to test a specific drone design outdoors is already outdated, the company's top policy executive said Tuesday in written testimony to a Senate subcommittee.

Special ops troops using flawed intel software

Mar 26, 2015

Special operations troops heading to war zones are asking for commercial intelligence analysis software they say will help their missions. But their requests are languishing, and they are being ordered to use a flawed, in-house ...

Amazon says US too late on drone rules

Mar 24, 2015

Online giant Amazon told Congress on Tuesday the US government is lagging in implementing rules for commercial drones, making it hard to make plans for its quick delivery system by air.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.