Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sustainable Energy Needs a Rock Star

Yesterday I attended a venture group event and the topic was sustainable energy.  The panel included people who ran companies that produced sustainable energy technology [solar, hydrogen fuel cell, etc.] along with government officials who are trying to catalyze sustainable energy investment.

The conversation centered around obstacles and "policy" rather than customers, markets, creativity, etc.  I learned about all the reasons that sustainable energy hasn't become a mainstream alternative.  For example, without a way to store natural energy for when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing, public utility companies will remain adversaries because they won't be able to fulfill their backup role and the traditional grid will never go away.  Maybe we should be funneling investment money towards entrepreneurs who can design and manufacture the right backup solution.

Another reason is that since natural gas prices are so low, it's tough to justify investing in sustainable energy solutions.  We all know that as soon as natural gas demand skyrockets, its price will also soar.

Another reason is that because of party politics, the federal government align with a unified energy strategy.  Well, what a great opportunity for a state to attract new tax paying businesses by making itself "energy friendly" through a creative approach.

No wonder sustainable energy is going nowhere fast.

Sustainable energy needs a rock star.
  • VHS beat Beta Max
  • Prius beat all the rest [and will do even better when their technology finds its way to other types of vehicles]
  • iTunes succeeded while Napster failed
  • Blue Ray beat HDTV
Each one of these success stories was led by a charismatic visionary who focused on the customer rather than the easy to rationalize reasons as to why it won't work.

JFK challenged us to go to the moon.  We did.

We need someone like Ted Turner or Steve Jobs to make it happen.