An Ode to Wacky Ideas

by Richard T. Stuebi

Over the years, I’ve been exposed to many cleantech concepts that are just, well, wacky. I’ve seen articles on tethered airborne windturbines and mile-high thermal generation towers, heard from entrepreneurs touting cold fusion devices and floating solar collectors for thermal electricity generation, and even witnessed what seemed to be a demonstration of a gizmo that purportedly harnesses the ambient magnetic flux in the universe. (Against the accepted laws of physics, mind you.)

Last week, I was sent a link to a story on MSNBC of a Canadian gentleman who is working on man-made tornadoes for electricity generation. This one might take the cake. To quote Bob Uecker from Wild Thing, “Juuuuust a bit outside.” See what you think.

Most mad-scientists are oblivious to the fact that, just because something theoretically is doable, doesn’t mean it should be done or is economic to do.

In the end, though, I gotta give these folks their due. If it weren’t for oddballs pushing the species, humans would probably still be sitting around in caves saying “Ugh”. It’s probably going to be a couple of what are initially considered wacky ideas that produce the necessary breakthroughs to truly solve our energy and environmental dilemmas. So, for that reason, I try to be somewhat open-minded in looking at the crazy stuff that sometimes comes across my transom.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

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