Five Ways to Fix an Energy Business: The Mad Genius of The Energy Pilots
Responding to an initiative launched in the U.K. to confront the widely held belief that low-carbon energy technologies are not cost-competitive, researcher and strategic designer Elliot P. Montgomery launched The Energy Pilots. The project, featured in ARPA Journal, was a “research program that set out to analyze a number of economic strategies commonly used in industries outside the energy sector.” In contrast to the renewables industry’s traditional service-for-flat-fee ($/kWh) model, The Energy Pilots provocatively manipulated economic exchange mechanisms. Its five case studies, functioning as both humorous critiques and disruptive business models to be seriously considered, included advertising through wind turbine printing and tours of deep geothermal wells reminiscent of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space travel services. The research program asserted that new economic strategies and business models could transform low-carbon technologies into profitable ventures that meet or exceed the affordability of fossil fuel businesses. By changing the image of renewables in this way, The Energy Pilots proposes a way to build public acceptance of alternative business practices and change energy culture.