Not to be confused with the Luc Besson 90's sci fi flick, The Fifth Element, the Fifth Fuel is neither film nor fuel. Nor is it fossil or renewable.
Rather, it's an abstract concept: it is the fuel (or other energy source) you didn't need to use because you were kicking butt on energy efficiency (EE), having converted your energy operations from a ravenous beast into a lean, mean, energy sipping machine.
If you've been working in the energy sector for longer than a few milliseconds, you'll recognize the name Daniel Yergin (more about him and his most recent book HERE). Also my colleague Dan mentioned this piece in a comment on his most recent post. Well, Yergin just penned a short piece showcasing the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner as a Fifth Fuel exemplar system.
This excerpt from the Yergin article really gets me:
The decision to go for efficiency in the Dreamliner was resulted from a democratic vote that resembled an Iowa presidential caucus. In the early stages of the design process, Boeing invited representatives of 59 airlines to Seattle to take part in an election. There were just two candidates: A new jet that would go 20 percent faster versus a new jet 20 percent more fuel efficient. All in favor of more speed were to walk to one side of the room; all in favor of 20 percent more fuel efficiency, to the other side. It was a rout -- 59 to zero in favor of efficiency.You might also want to check out "Financing the Fifth Fuel" wherein you'll find references to Duke Energy's CEO, the Mckinsey consultancy, and the mighty Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) making the clear cut business case for, and outlining the steps towards the wider adoption of, the Fifth Fuel energy efficiency concept.
It concludes thusly:
I would expect that ... models ... for financing the fifth fuel will become more commonplace ... as the imperative for more aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency becomes stronger with each passing day. We should begin anticipating that eventually the biggest problem with these approaches will be answering the “too good to be true” perception. After all, who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to save money instantly, without any cash outlay?And I conclude with the following question: If the Fifth Fuel is EE, can you name the other four?
Dan and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Andy Bochman
Image credit: Boeing
Image credit: Boeing