Energy Influencers #26 – #30

Energy Influencers #26 – #30

Here’s the next group that you’ll get to meet:

  #21 Bill McKibben (Environment activist and writer) 
  #22 Dave Guilford (Enterprise Editor at Automotive News)
  #23 Muammar Gaddafi (Former Ruler of Libya)
  #24 Paul Dickerson (Partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP)
  #25 Tom Currier (Founder & CTO of Black Swan Solar)


 #26 Donnie Wilson

Co-founder & CEO of Elastec/American Marine

Evansville, Indiana

In celebration of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) this week in Houston, we have Donnie Wilson who had one million reasons to celebrate in 2011.

Wilson is co-founder and CEO of Elastec/American Marine, a global leader and manufacturer of pollution recovery systems with a core competency in oil spill recovery.

After developing several successful enterprises in the oil field service industry, Wilson learned two things that can clean-up oil really well: fire and plastic

First there was plastic…and a good story…Wilson and Elastic co-founder Jeff Cantrell got the idea of an oil recovery system after responding to a local oil spill.  Wilson asked Cantrell to throw him a five-gallon plastic bucket to help in the recovery effort, but he missed and it fell into the spill on the water. As the wind turned the bucket, oil stuck to the side of it, leading them to their first invention of oil recovery equipment.  That bucket spawned the barrel skimmer that led to the creation of Elastic Inc. in 1990.

Then there were fires…when the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in 1989, Elastec’s sister company American Marine deployed fire booms as a containment system for the controlled burning of oil spills.  20 years later when the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred in 2010 and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Elastec/American Marine did it again with the aid of local shrimp boats.

Then there was plastic again… funded by #Energy100 Influencer Wendy Schmidt, the 2011 Oil Cleanup X Challenge dangled a million-dollar purse to any company that could drastically increase the speed that oil is skimmed from water.  The industry standard is for oil skimmers to remove 1,100 gallons of oil per minute. The X Challenge set the bar at 2,500 gallons per minute.  Team Elastic crushed it with their truck-sized skimmer at nearly 5,000 gallons and their nearest competitor managed 2,700 gallon.

So how tough was the competition to get this prize?  The judges decided not to award a third-place prize concluding that none of the eight other finalists met the stringent criteria after the teams put their entries through real-world testing.

So when you leave OTC tomorrow and fly out of Houston, stop over and congratulate Wilson and Team Elastic in Fairfield, Illinois….they’re having an Open House from 1-3 pm.  The winning prize got pictured by National Geographic as one of the “Most Hopeful Energy Developments of 2011,” but maybe you can see it for yourself in person. 

 #27 Alykhan Velshi

Founder of

Toronto, Canada

Not all diamonds are Blood Diamonds, and not all oil is Conflict Oil.  Alykhan Velshi believes in Ethical Oil and the case for Canada’s oil sands.

Velshi is a lawyer, writer, and policy analyst.  In 2011, Velshi briefly left the Harper Government to lead, only to return to Parliament Hill in late fall 2011 as the director of planning for the Prime Minister’s Office, a post that involves both long-term policy and political planning. began as a blog created by Alykhan Velshi to promote the ideas in Ezra Levant’s bestselling book ‘Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands’. defines Conflict Oil as being from some of the world’s most politically oppressive and environmentally reckless regimes while Ethical Oil is the “Fair Trade” choice in oil from liberal democracies like Canada, and its oil sands.

Velshi and gained the most notoriety on both sides of the border and around the world in 2011 for running controversial TV and print ads showing a Saudi woman about to be stoned to death, asking whether Canadian Ethical Oil wasn’t a lot more responsible than Middle Eastern Conflict Oil.  It was strong stuff for Canadians and became the first time many Americans heard of the Velshi who was not the CNN business anchor…talk about first impressions.

Velshi wasn’t brought into Harper’s government to be Mr. Nice Guy.  He was re-appointed to give Ottawa officials some spine in dealing with Canada’s oil and pipeline issues.

Using as a platform, Velshi was a staunch supporter the Keystone XL pipeline project until Obama put that on the back burner.  Now, back in the Canadian government, he has an even better stage to influence the just-launched hearings over the Keystone alternative, Enbridge’s proposed 650-mile Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.

Velshi may return to #Energy100 in 2012….if he can open the Gateway for Ethical Oil to Asian markets.

#28 Mark Udall

United States Senator from Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

As a vigorous outdoorsman and an accomplished mountaineer, Senator @MarkUdall is a strong supporter of both the military and the environment…and some of his legislation, like reducing the military’s reliance on fossil fuel, covers both.

Udall serves on several senatorial energy and natural resource committees which give him a strong platform to stand on energy and the environment….such as a much needed national renewable energy standard.

Udall comes from a long family lineage of politicians and in April 2011 he teamed up with one of those family members, senatorial cousin Tom Udall from New Mexico, to introduce Renewable Energy Standard (RES) legislation that would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025.

Although he won’t hold his breath on passage of this policy anytime soon, Udall vows to continue the fight for a national renewable energy standard — a nationwide version of Colorado’s renewable mandate that requires most power companies to produce 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

In December, when Schwarzenegger received the highest honor from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Udall was right there with him to receive his own award in recognition of exemplary Congressional leadership to advance renewable energy.  Quite an honor from a non-profit organization whose members include representatives of the wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and other renewable energy industries.

Udall has received numerous accolades in the media for his track record of bipartisan efforts, but he has taken some heat from environmentalists for his support for nuclear power.

Still, while Udall believes increased nuclear power is a necessary means of reducing the amount of carbon-spewing fossil fuels, it is only part of the solution…he has a whole list of other energy and environment issues he is also working on so that he can continue to enjoy skiing, golfing, hiking, camping, climbing….and so shall we all.

#29 Shi Dinghuan

President of China Renewable Energy Society


Shi Dinghuan was nominated for #Energy100 by his U.S. clean energy counterpart (not my Chinese-speaking ‘evil twin’) for his tireless promotion of a clean economy and a cleaner environment.

Shi is Counselor of the China State Council and Chairman of China Renewable Energy Association.  Along with positions at many other science and technology organizations, Shi is also the Chairman of China Renewable Energy Association, Chairman of the China Technology Advisory Association, and serves on the advisory board of the US-China Green Energy Council.

Shi is involved in various policy making activities for the development of Chinese energy industry and international cooperation projects.  Since China as one of the most active countries regarding financial investments in clean energy technology, Shi has been a familiar face at clean energy conferences, expos, events, ceremonies and company milestones throughout the past year.

With China facing energy safety and pollution challenges resulting from its heavy dependence on fossil fuels, Shi understands the significance of low carbon growth as a major focus of the country’s economic development.

Coal and oil currently account for 69 percent and 20 percent of the country’s primary energy  consumption respectively, with clean energy sources, including nuclear, wind and solar power, accounting for only 7.6 percent.  With renewable portfolio standards (RPS) calling for China to get 15 percent of its total energy from renewable sources by 2020, China has big plans for future wind and solar power development.

Shi is very confident that China will move toward low-carbon development and is quick to point out that there are always new technology advances during times of global crises….that should make 2012 another busy year for Shi, his U.S. clean energy counterpart, and my ‘evil twin.’ 

#30 Arnold Schwarzenegger

38th Governor of California

Los Angeles, California

A person on twitter nominated “Arnold @Schwarzenegger for driving the 33% RPS in California.”  Well done Schwarzenegger, 33% RPS is now law in California.

The California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) bill was created in 2002 and stipulated that California electricity corporations must produce a specified fraction of their electricity from renewable energy sources.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed executive order S-14-08 in 2008 which mandated a RPS of 33% by 2020.  33% RPS became law in California on 4/12/11.

Fresh off a seven-year term as the governor of California, the ever-quotable Schwarzenegger remained in the renewable energy spotlight in 2011 calling for clean energy innovation while traveling the speaker circuit…from an Energy Forum in Vienna to the APRA-E Technology and Innovation Summit in Washington D.C., and everywhere in between.

In December, Schwarzenegger was named “Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade” by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), a non-profit organization whose members include representatives of the wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and other renewable energy industries.  There he urged presidential candidates to do more to encourage investments in renewable energy and pledged to be a “cheerleader” on the issue.

Schwarzenegger has called for the termination of fossil fuels and anything else that stands in the way of U.S. leadership in clean energy developments.  Would you stand in the way of Mr. Universe, Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator, Mr. Freeze or the former Governator?  Neither will the “old energy order”….not for very long anyways.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s