Carpooling Service…from an Oil Company?

May 1, 2009

carpool_sign_500The good people over at Springwise continue to point out some of the most innovative startups competing for your attention, and today, they had one that really caught my eye.

“In March 2009, Galp Energia launched Galpshare, a carpooling platform where commuters can create a profile, specify their daily route and find others heading the same way. Users can also list their musical preferences and interests (politics, sport, business, etc.), helping them find people they’d enjoy sharing a ride with.”

The most interesting thing to note here is that Galp Energia is the largest oil company in Portugal.  It’s strange to think of an Oil company as part of the solution for energy efficiency.

I commend them for stepping up to the plate and designing a service that is forward thinking and helpful.  A quick look at the website and you can tell that it is still relatively new, but there are a number of members.  The free site could obtain some significant advertisers as the network starts to grow.  It is the perfect example of a company innovating outside the boundaries of their current business model to position themselves in a new market and become more sustainable.

Hopefully this is more than just a PR ploy to gain some friendly attention, and they are in this for the long haul.  Maybe other companies in a similar situation will start to take notice and deploy similar business strategies.

As more companies see the value in becoming environmentally conscious, we will see a growth in the “green economy” that will help society as a whole.

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Energy Chief and Climate Czar: Time to Step Up

December 11, 2008

global-warmingSo Obama reportedly has named Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, to be his Chief of Energy.  And after being turned down by Al Gore, has selected Carol Browner to be his Climate Czar.  This will be the most important department of the cabinet in the coming years.  Let the debate begin.

Obama has stated that fighting Climate Change and Energy Crises would be a top priority of his administration, a topic that has never gotten the attention it requires.  He said that he would devote $150 Billion over ten years to clean energy technology research and development.  And these two positions will be the topmost voices on where and how we spend this money.

Climate Change and Energy are the most important challenges that face this country right now.  The economic crisis is bad, but we have been there before.  Though it will take a while, things well shake out, and we will get back on track.  Don’t start thinking that the world is falling down around us.

Global warming is something that is affecting the entire planet in a way that we have never seen before, something that, without our attention, will continue to get exponentially worse.  There have been major advances in technology that will allow us to potentially reduce the negative affects we have on the environment, but many more are needed.  We have to continue to raise interest and awareness, continue to develop infrastructure, and continue to invest in new ideas and innovations that allow us to move forward in this area.

The pressure is on the Department of Energy to step up and deliver from day one of the Obama Administration.  As a country, we cannot allow them to hesitate.  We must demand that they experiment with new technology, invest in new ideas, try new things, fail, and try again.  The time is now, and the US has to begin setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.  And guess what, all those people that think this issue is not as important as the economy may want to consider the positive impacts that growth of new energy technologies will have on jobs, trade, and investment.

Remember, Steven Chu and Carol Browner won’t have all the answers.  Give them your ideas, and get your voice heard at

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Crisis Mode

September 22, 2008

If you read the news, it’s tough to stay optimistic. And because I sit at a computer most of the day, both at work and at home, and because I like to stay on top of what’s going on in my world, it’s hard not to read. There are a few pieces today that caught my eye today.

The first, on CNN, is about the impending oil prices that may have started to kick into gear. Though the prices had dropped over the past month or so, we saw a huge spike today and there is bound to be expensive gas in our future.

The second, from TIME, is a commentary on the state of the union in a post-bailout America. Through a unique comparison between what we are doing and the French system of government, it is apparent that we may be hurting our “capitalistic” ways.

There are problems in this country right now, there is no denying that. And this election can do a lot to define where we are headed as far as fighting those problems. But there is too much work to be done to rely on candidates and government alone. Despite the recent doubt in many large companies, the best solutions to our problems have always come from the private sector.

Innovative minds must prevail. Think long and hard about where we are and how we’ve gotten here. A lot of times there are easy solutions out there if you just approach the problem from a fundamental point of view. We need to solve the energy crisis now, before it becomes as bad as the financial crisis, which is not that far off. And we can do it in a way that helps to rebuild our country.

In the next ten years, what we do as far as energy is concerned will determine the fate of our planet. New companies will form around the clean energy platform. Existing companies will shift focus to address new concerns. Huge amounts of capital will be laid out to develop infrastructure and materials. But in the end we will succeed, and success will come from the ground up. Be innovation, think clean.

The Return of the Electric Car?

July 10, 2008

The electric car was an incredible innovation…15 years ago! The fact that we don’t have cheap, dependable electric cars on the market today is not because the technology is not available. It is a variety of reasons stemming from consumer demands, government protectionism, and corporate trickery. It is well documented that the technology was there in the 90’s, and the cars were built, and then scrapped. Check out the movie that explains it all.

So why now, in 2008, when Nissan announces that they are working on an electric car for 2011, is it news? Maybe it’s because they are behind the times and they realize that in order to compete they need to make news. Maybe it’s because the media is fickle enough to buy into anything that sounds fancy. Maybe consumers are not smart enough to realize that this could just be a promotional stunt used to get people excited about Nissan.

Whatever it is, it’s not very innovative. Sure, it’s a step in the right direction for a company that has not been at the forefront of the energy talks. But the fact that they announce it as if we should be impressed by their forward thinking offends me. I think electric vehicles are a real solution, but I also think they always have been. Why is it taking so long?

GM built a line of electric cars in the 90’s. Why will it take Nissan three years from now? Battery power is there. Designs are there. Consumers are there. What is everyone in the car industry waiting for?