© Lewis J. Perelman, 2012
Energy Innovation: Fixing the Technical Fix
Energy policy is what systems scientists literally call a “mess”: a tangle of economic, environmental, social, and technical problems stirred by competing and often conflicting political agendas.
Breakthrough Institute founders Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger have promoted
the case for a fundamental shift in energy policy strategies—away from schemes to
make dirty energy more expensive and instead a strategy to make clean energy cheap.
What they call an “emerging consensus” of analysts and centers agrees that a greatly
increased investment in breakthrough technology innovation is essential to resolving
the mess of energy-
However, a number of complex issues make it more difficult to devise how the grand technology initiative is to be carried out, by whom, and with what results:
Moreover, in the current economic environment, financially distressed governments simply may not be able to provide the scale of investment called for. However, a Plan B strategy for “innovation on a budget” is possible.
Plan B begins with the recognition that a “big” energy innovation program does not necessarily need to be big in cost to the public treasury to be big in the scope of its reach, engagement, diversity, and impacts.
Rather, a number of limited-
An indicator of what a socially and digitally networked energy-
The energy innovation programs the emerging consensus is calling for should defocus
activity to many diverse nodes at the edge, and nurture bottom-
Such a network-