FORTUNE -- During an O'Reilly Factor conversation last night about Tesla Motors (TSLA), guest Eric Bolling made two demonstrably untrue statements about the cleantech industry within the span of just 15 seconds. Even by the loose standards of cable news punditry, this was a galling disregard for basic facts.
What follows is the relevant part of the conversation between Bolling and host Bill O'Reilly:
Bolling: The reason Solyndra didn't work is because they couldn't get the price down to where homeowners could afford to put them on their roof.
O'Reilly: That's true
Bolling: And guess what, we lost $500 million in Solyndra.
O'Reilly: But in Tesla we're not losing because they paid the money back.
Bolling: We got lucky on one Bill, but for every Tesla there are four Solyndras...
For starters, Solyndra didn't fail because homeowners couldn't afford to put its solar panels on their roofs. How do I know? Because Solyndra was building solar panels for commercial buildings, not residential ones.
Second, Bolling is very wrong about the winners vs. losers breakdown of companies that received loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy. Of the 31 programs that received such loan guarantees, only four have gone the way of Solyndra (i.e., failed completely and been shut down). Moreover, as of last check, the overall program is on track to turn an overall profit (inclusive of the Solyndra losses).
Finally, Bolling also later suggested that Tesla -- and other companies in the DoE loan program -- borrowed from the government instead of raising private capital:
Are you going to tell me that all those smart guys on Wall Street, with tens of billion of dollars to loan, wouldn't see Tesla and say, 'You know what we'll loan you that money, instead of the government..."
This isn't really accurate, since the government loan guarantees were conditioned on the recipient having also raised substantial funds from the private sector (often in the form of equity, which is higher risk than debt). Tesla, for example, raised more than $270 million in private funding -- including from Wall Street stalwart J.P. Morgan (JPM). So, yes, those "smart guys on Wall Street" (and in Silicon Valley) did take a big chance on Tesla. And in Solyndra for that matter (so much for the idea that they're always so much smarter than the government guys).
I'd like to blame all of this misinformation on some young intern, but Bolling insists that he alone is responsible for his own research:
Perhaps it's time to hire some help...
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Vinod Khosla was featured in a recent 60 Minutes piece about clean technology. And he thinks they got it wrong.
FORTUNE -- Last May, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl ran into venture capitalist Vinod Khosla at the D11 Conference in Southern California. During a brief conversation on the lawn, they discussed how clean technology is at a crossroads due to a variety of factors (political gridlock, VC-backed busts, rock-bottom natural gas prices, MOREDan Primack - Jan 14, 2014 3:40 PM ET
Venrock's two energy-focused investors have left, and one of them already has formed a new firm.
FORTUNE -- Matthew Nordan has stepped down as an energy-focused vice president with VC firm Venrock, in order to launch a new firm alongside Chivas Lam (ex-venture partner with Qiming) and Greg Manuel (former SVP at Amyris Biotech and ex-special advisor for energy to Sec of State Condoleezza Rice).
Not another VC firm, but rather a MOREDan Primack - Jan 7, 2014 12:57 PM ET
New VC effort will focus on capital-efficient energy companies.
FORTUNE -- A new breed of energy-focused private equity funds is beginning to emerge, focused on capital-efficient companies rather than the fortune-burning manufacturing plays of yesteryear. In other words, no more solar panel or biofuel investments that look more like project finance than traditional venture capital.
The latest one I've heard about is being formed by Doug Kirkpatrick, who has spent the past MOREDan Primack - Jun 27, 2013 2:39 PM ET
It's been nearly two years since Jonathan Silver stepped down as head of the U.S. Department of Energy's loan program. Now he's talking about it.
FORTUNE -- Jonathan Silver was hired in November 2009 to run the U.S. Department of Energy's $34 billion loan guarantee program, which was started under President Bush but super-charged under President Obama as part of the economic stimulus.
This was the program whose best-known success story to MOREDan Primack - Jun 3, 2013 3:02 PM ET
Electric car network runs out of gas.
FORTUNE -- Electric car company Better Place is planning to file for bankruptcy within the next several days, Fortune has learned.
The move will come seven months after the ouster of charismatic founder Shai Agassi, and five months after his successor -- Evan Thornley, CEO of Better Place Australia -- also departed.
Agassi also was a significant shareholder in the company, which had raised more than $700 MOREDan Primack - May 24, 2013 2:36 PM ET
Bloom privately reports $32 million Q3 loss.
FORTUNE -- For years, the knock on fuel cell maker Bloom Energy Corp. has been that its boxes cost more to make than they cost to buy. Not exactly the sort of dynamic that would help Bloom make it up on volume.
But perhaps things are finally about to change, after 10 years and nearly $1 billion in venture capital funding.
Fortune recently obtained confidential documents MOREDan Primack - Nov 14, 2012 8:01 AM ET
Gingrich hasn't always mocked algae-based energy.
Newt Gingrich this week opened up a new line of attack on President Obama's energy policy, mocking Obama's recent comment that fuels are being developed from algae. From a speech Gingrich gave to supporters in Tennessee on Monday night:
The President said we have to be practical. Drilling won't solve it. And then he offered his practical solution. Anybody here remember what it was? Algae. Algae. MOREDan Primack - Mar 15, 2012 12:13 PM ET
Biofuel startup Qteros has laid off CEO John McCarthy and most of its other Boston-area employees, Fortune has learned.
The Marlborough, Mass.-based company was founded in 1996 as SunEthanol, with a focus developing and commercializing cellulosic ethanol. It raised over $35 million in venture capital funding, from such firms as Battery Ventures, Venrock, Long River Ventures, BP (BP) and Valero Energy (VLO). There also was a Dow Jones report in July MOREDan Primack - Nov 17, 2011 2:45 PM ET
Obama critics think they've found another solar scandal. They're wrong.
Matt Drudge seems to think he has found the next solar scandal to chip away at President Obama's poll numbers:
The link is to a blog post in The Weekly Standard, about a recent loan $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to a solar energy company called SolarReserve. More specifically, the post insinuates that DoE approved the loan MOREDan Primack - Sep 29, 2011 3:26 PM ET
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