Richard Branson explains his bet on biofuels [an interview]
Virgin founder chats about embracing ethanol, slashing airplane emissions
Does a music mogul who signed the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson have what it takes to make a pop star out of biofuels?
Earlier this fall, publicity-chasing British entrepreneur Richard Branson made a $3 billion bet that he could do just that -- and help solve the climate crisis to boot -- via Virgin Fuels, a new company in his wide-ranging Virgin Group.
An ear for music doesn't necessarily indicate an eye for energy technology, of course. Branson has proved himself remarkably versatile over the last few decades, expanding his Virgin brand beyond the record label into successful airline, locomotive, cable, and mobile-phone companies. But there have been flops along the way -- Virgin Jeans and Virgin Cola, to name just a couple. Virgin Fuels could be an even riskier venture given that it's plunging headlong into unproven markets, but Branson insists that biofuels are a critical near-term solution to climate change and could fully supplant conventional fuels within 30 years.