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© Lewis J. Perelman, 2012

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Energy policy is a mess: a tangle of interconnected problems stirred by competing political agendas. Whether it’s soaring fuel prices, noxious pollution, climate worries, security risks, or threats to the economy and jobs, energy politics are vexed by the tendency of single-issue solutions to make other problems worse.  

Many look to technology to break the logjam. But current energy technology mostly is either cheap or “clean”—not both.

With Energy Innovation, Lewis J. Perelman builds on the emerging consensus of leading analysts who insist that accelerating innovation to create new, breakthrough technology is essential to resolving the mess of energy-related problems.

Yet Perelman warns that achieving really effective technical fixes is easier said than done. Simply throwing more money at R&D is not the answer. The author lists a number of real-world hurdles to creating useful innovations—including corruption, special interest lobbying, money and budget issues, tensions between government and private sector roles, and political instability. And financially strapped governments simply may not have the money others have called for.

To fix the technical fix, Perelman proposes a Plan B strategy for innovation-on-a-budget. Plan B begins with the recognition that a big energy innovation program need not be big in cost to the public treasury to be big in the scope of its reach, engagement, diversity, and impacts.

Instead, Plan B emphasizes decentralizing and opening up energy innovation efforts to broad, international participation by individuals, businesses, philanthropies, and nongovern-ment, nonacademic organizations—taking full advantage of the mesh of modern information technology.

In Perelman’s prescription, the open innovation model increasingly being applied in both science and industry provides the key to untangling the energy policy mess. Recent experience shows that open crowdsourcing can produce solutions in as little as days to problems that have stumped experts for years.

Applying social and political realism to the big picture of technical challenges, Perelman’s Energy Innovation provides an original, timely roadmap toward a more energy-secure global economy.

“Lewis Perelman’s Energy Innovation is highly informative, comprehensive, thoughtful, and original—a laudable contribution.”

— Prof. Suresh Kumar, Chief Scientist, CSIR National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, India

“Perelman’s open innovation model, based on evidence from other industries, could be a game-changer. His proposal for open collaboration among developed and developing economies certainly would help realize Chile’s immense renewable energy potential.”

—Alfredo Barriga, President, South Pacific Business Promotions SA, Santiago, Chile

“Perelman's discussion of the social limits to technical fixes makes several well-taken points that should inform work focused on adoption and diffusion of new energy technology.”

— Dr. Christopher Green, Professor of Economics, McGill University School of Environment, Montreal, Canada

“...Count me along with Lewis Perelman among the proponents of ‘Plan B.’ ...Perfectly captures four of the most important considerations for solving big problems in the 21st century.”

— Russ Keller, Vice President, SCRA Applied R&D

“Excellent! Right message for the right time in energy policy.” — Dr. Thomas Kuehn, President, Biospherex, LLC; former Executive Director, U.S. Energy Research Advisory Board

“Lewis Perelman provides a unique look at the big picture, the entire process, of getting new energy efficient technologies and systems into place. He emphasizes the critical role of human factors, too often overlooked by others.”

— Dr. Peter J. Denning, Director, The Cebrowski Institute for Information and Innovation

Leaders in government, industry, and academia concerned about energy in the 21st century should all read Perelman’s book. His key insight is that learning ‘how’ to solve the problem with a new generation of methodology and scope for innovation must be a prerequisite for realistically solving the problem.”

— Dr. Bill Miller, President, 4G Innovation, LLC

Energy Innovation provides a comprehensive blueprint for a new energy pathway. Lewis Perelman builds a pragmatic framework around realism and bypasses the idealistic viewpoint that promises much but delivers little.”

— Dr. Barry Stevens, President, TBDAmerica, Inc.