Energy Visionaries Can Overcome Objections to Innovation

May 15, 2011

Industry News, Technologies

Energy issues are present in plenty, these days. What’s not so common are the visionaries the energy industry needs to build and maintain momentum, support, and action.

There are so many naysayers quick to jump on the anti-renewable bandwagon out there. I know from experience. Being once a student of renewable energy technology, I heard oodles of objections from my peers. It got to a point where the excuses became so redundant and ridiculous that I wanted to ask them if their dog ate their homework. There were always four main premises in these objections: myopia, niaivety, procrastination, and fear – all things that visionaries don’t suffer from. Let’s break these down.

Objection #1-“Fossil fuels are cheaper.”
Many complain about the price of renewable energy sources and they use it as an excuse to abandon the research and innovation efforts we, as a nation, have been participating in. Apparently, they forget the complaints about the cost of automobiles and personal computers. Had we abandoned our efforts to revolutionize the transportation and computing industries, we’d still be shoveling horse dookie off the streets and using typewriters. Resisting change due to apparent costs (and I say apparent because these objectors fail to consider the cost of oil wars that have bankrupt the nation for generations to come) is just myopic.

Objection #2-“We’ve got bigger things to worry about – like war.”
So, let’s talk about war. The average war-worries objector tends to be oblivious to the fact that our nation has been blowing shit up over energy security for decades, now. If we’d become less dependent on foreign oil, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about these wars. I mean, kudos to these objectors for being idealists and believing we’re only at war for the sake of peace and democracy because our leaders are so admirable, but this objection is just niaive.

Objection #3-“We don’t need new energy solutions. We can just drill at home.”
People can argue about the capacity of oil reserves and natural gas shale in the US until they’re blue in the face. But the bottom line is innovation isn’t born out of need. Innovation is bred from the anticipation of need. By putting all of our eggs in one drill-at-home basket and overlooking potential innovation in other energy sources, we choose to leave ourselves short-handed when an actual NEED arises and we’ve not prepared. These objectors choose procrastination.

Objection #4-“Renewable energy is not reliable.”
We can’t rely on solar because the sun doesn’t always shine. We can’t rely on wind because the wind doesn’t always blow. We can’t rely, we can’t rely, we can’t rely. These objections are based on the thought that the renewable energy movement is proposing we replace our existing energy sources with just one new renewable source. How wrong they are. The goal of new energy solutions is to create a diverse portfolio utilizing all of our available resources to the best of our ability. Energy storage, for example, is a booming market because the industry realizes we must retain the ability to store the energy created from solar so we can use it when the sun isn’t shining. These objectors are just riddled with fear of what they do not know and do not understand.

So how do we overcome these common objections? We keep moving forward. We need energy visionaries to lead the pack in innovation. We need energy visionaries in our schools to educate about the possibilities of better solutions. We need energy visionaries in our governments (both local and federal) to rally for change and urgency from their constituents. We need energy visionaries in our workforce creating new technologies and solutions. We need energy visionaries to fuel the fire that is change. And we need them now.

Image credit: porah

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6 Comments on “Energy Visionaries Can Overcome Objections to Innovation”

  1. Mark W. Says:

    Hi Megan.
    I’ve been thinking about this post for the last couple of days. It’s because it goes to the heart of a question that many people have. Why hasn’t the U.S. government formulated an energy policy and maintained it since the first “energy crisis” of the early seventies emerged? It takes vision to create a workable energy policy. An energy policy that would include available resources and money to fund research and development and include innovative technology as it becomes viable. Today I watched portions of the 1 hour 50 minute C-Span video where Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee on his Department’s budget ( http://tinyurl.com/3b22jej ). I now have a much better appreciation for the reasons why we don’t have an energy policy. All types of energy sources are discussed in this hearing from nuclear to wind. Each senator had questions and concerns as they related to their state. Laws, regulations, and of course budgetary matters were discussed. Things like nimby (not in my back yard) and jobs and money were of the utmost concern. So for the short time I did watch (20-30 minutes), I didn’t really pick up on any long range planning. I guess i wasn’t tuned into the correct station. In conclusion, I like Energy Secretary Steven Chu and wish him the best of luck.

    Reply

    • Madam Energy Says:

      Mark, after reading your comment part of me wanted to say “Oh, don’t get me started on the politics of energy!” Then (the smart) part of me realized as an energy blogger I *have* to get started on the politics on energy.

      You bring up good points. Steven Chu is a phenom – I admire him wholeheartedly for the vision he brings to the table. The problem that we face with energy policy is that the visionaries are not the decision-makers. Legislators need to become the visionaries – ignoring fear, overcoming niavety, rising above procrastination, and putting an end to the myopic way that the US has operated for so long. It’s great that Chu is such a champion for the cause but until Chu has the backing of visionary policy makers, long-term energy policy will unfortunately not become a reality for this country.

      Reply

  2. Mark W. Says:

    I forgot to mention that I really like all the gradual improvements you’ve made to this blog. It really looks good and has a lot of nice features!

    Reply

    • Madam Energy Says:

      Hey, thanks! I’ve been tooling around quite a bit and trying to make the site more pleasant, accessible, and engaging for both first-time visitors and my seasoned vets such as yourself. What’s your favorite new feature? I’d love to know.

      Reply

      • Mark W. Says:

        The feature I really like is the box with the four tabs labeled Popular, Latest, Comments, and Tags. Easy one click access to many areas on your blog.

  3. Talia Frump Says:

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Reply

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