The term “thought leader” is, as “paradigm shift” was at one point, the buzzword of the day. But thought leaders are not paradigm shifters. To demonstrate, this article in Forbes defining thought leaders, does not include the word, or variation of the word entrepreneur; a para dig em creator. Using the article’s description, which happens to align with my caricature of a thought leader, I arrive at this simpleton definition:
Noun Thought Leader (thot lee-dur)
1. Best-practice Yoda and Grand Master Jedi energy nerd
Defined another way, thought leaders are geniuses at what is – not to be confounded with Bill Clinton’s confusion for the definition of the word “is”. Grand Master Jedism is extremely valuable, and thus Yoda is highly compensated.
However, what we need are inventive leaders and buyers (utilities, administrators) that are willing to step off tinker toy island and strike out on their own like Yukon Cornelius and Rudolph, and make something happen. What is an inventive leader?
Noun Inventive Leader (in’ven-tiv lee-dur)
1. Steve Jobs – Master creator, stylist, genius, developer and seller of things people don’t know they need
From this foundation, we must move.
In a sneaky conspiratorial move, the Energy Rant has been evolving from random personal rants about anything related to energy consumption, policy, and floozy lawmaking to somewhat of a theme of “let’s move on from tinker toys and really do something that saves big-time energy”. This is partly due to my marketing leaders beating me with canes to improve search engine optimization, and partly due to my seeing recurring evidence of the need for change, not only from technical perspectives (technologies hitting their limits), but also customer needs and their willingness to do things.
In a way, energy efficiency is approaching the point of the oil and natural gas extraction business in 1980. That was, “OMG(!), we’re running out of oil and natural gas!” Thirty five years later, we’re swimming and floating in vast oceans and clouds of the stuffs. The industry, through R&D, has developed unbelievable (really) technologies to drill to extreme depths of oceans and earth, directionally, hydraulic fracturing, this, that, and the other. The days of Jed Clampett discovering oil with his double barreled shotgun were over, but the days of subterranean fossil fuels were not. Already, companies are racing beyond shale to unlock the bazillions of cubic feet of methane locked up in methane hydrates (ice) on ocean floors.
To sum it up, enormous energy efficiency potential is locked up in major systems as with shale and hydrates – in the way these systems are designed (not well), and how they are controlled (not well). Like shale gas in 1980, it was/is there but few knew about it and tapping it, a mystery. Let’s start fricking fracking!
Vast swaths of commercial and industrial end users would unleash seas of savings if they had the time, expertise, resources, information, and direction to do so. To use a lay person example, consider tasks that must be done around my house – things I don’t have the time or interest to do, because I’m doing things like writing this blog. Last winter, I rounded up about five Rubbermaid totes of various levels of “hazardous” and recyclable waste that remain in an orderly row in my basement. Unloading it is a hassle. My county will take it on the third, even-numbered, Wednesday of each month between 9:00 and 9:15, except in months with national holidays, in which case, they will take it three business days before the national holiday at 2:00-2:10 in the afternoon, unless that falls on a Friday in which case, make it Thursday. Call ahead for an appointment. I would be pleased to pay someone to take it off my hands when I’m normally home, like Saturday/Sunday mornings – and disposing of it properly. I don’t have time for this sort of thing – as large C&I end users don’t have time to hassle with energy efficiency.
Programs need to bring willing buyers of energy efficiency together with resources which may include expertise (Grand Master Jedis), capital, and just plain old manpower to do the legwork and manage projects to completion. To demonstrate, here is an offer. Readers, give me a bid to take my hazmats and dispose of it all properly. If you don’t think I’m willing to pay enough, try me. Note to nerds – there may be enough stuff in there to make a space ship. We will see how this goes, and I will report back next week. Readers in Florida and Arizona may need to find a subcontractor to have a chance.
So there it is: the need of programs to bring willing buyers of energy efficiency together with competent, Grand Master Jedi Energy Nerds from around the galaxy. I will be making the case for various needs in future posts. Stay tuned!
 Don’t worry. This stuff will not disappear.