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Google, Kleiner Perkins invest in efficiency

Google at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Well, while we're talking search engines, Google is now in part an energy company. The company's venture capital arm, is touting a $20 million investment in a next-generation energy efficiency firm.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Scott Tong reports.


SCOTT TONG: In Silicon Valley yesterday, Google declared the future is not in silicon. At least not in energy conversion. Our lives are full of conversions, from AC power to DC and back, say when you plug in your laptop. Those waste a lot of energy in the form of heat, but the startup backed by Google claims it can cut 90 percent of that waste. By using a material called gallium nitrate instead of silicon.

Google Ventures' Bill Maris says efficiencies make products smaller -- take my audio recorder's power plug.

BILL MARIS: This brick that I'm holding that's powering your microphone will disappear eventually. And you won't find yourself like I do often in a hotel scrambling for, I forgot my converter.

The new company's called Transphorm. Legendary venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is also investing. The firm's Randy Komisar says the public cares about energy security -- creating opportunities for investment.

RANDY KOMISAR: If you don't have that, you'll find that private capital flees to easier things, like social networking.

Transphorm claims its technology could one day save enough energy to power the whole West Coast.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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