SM: When you look around today, around us here in the Valley, are you involved in any of these clean tech / energy companies? PC: I have some friends who are involved in the clean tech, and that is interesting. I love and follow carefully the development of clean energy, or cleaning up dirty energy which is perhaps going to be even more important. I think it is going to be easier and cheaper to clean up fossil fuels and sequester CO2 than to develop new renewable energy sources over the short term. I also believe than nuclear energy is going to be necessary as an economic source of energy as well.
Wind, solar, those other choices are going to remain higher priced by a significant amount. I think we have over 100 years of fossil fuels left. I think we need to go faster into nuclear energy. I think it is ridiculous we have not done that. France has been such a leader in this field. I think 90% of their electricity comes from nuclear energy.
SM: MIT is putting a lot of effort into energy. PC: I had a breakfast meeting with Susan Hockfeld (President of MIT) a few months ago, and it is amazing to learn that the entire institute – every department – has a major thrust in solving the energy problem. I am delighted to see that. The problems are technical but there are going to be many political problems to face as well.
SM: The question I want to get back to is that you said wind and solar are higher-priced solutions, but they seem to be matching the model you are suggesting of this high gross margin, higher-priced product. PC: As long as the government subsidizes them, which is what they are doing, it will be. They need substantial tax breaks and direct subsidies. I think the government should do that and it is important to the country. In terms of impact, it will be a drop in the bucket supplying only a few percent of our energy needs.