7) THE NEW ENERGY PIONEERS
RON PERNICK CO-FOUNDER, CLEAN EDGE; AGE: 42
SCOTT KOHL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, ICM INC.; AGE: 35
Until recently, energy technology was the kind of issue that put all but the most committed environmentalist straight to sleep. Not anymore: With the country’s dependency on oil costing lives in the Middle East and Al Gore giving the subject the Hollywood treatment, energy is hot. Venture capitalists, major corporations, and government agencies all want advice on how to get in on the new frontier. Sound familiar? Ron Pernick, who cofounded the research firm Clean Edge, has seen this kind of technological gold rush before. He cut his teeth on Internet startups including Yahoo, and what Jupiter Consulting did for the Internet, Clean Edge aims to do for energy. When the Nasdaq wanted to create a clean-energy index, and when officials in San Francisco needed advice on running the city on clean energy, they called Pernick. Clean Edge’s research shows that the biggest clean-energy market is in biofuel, and Scott Kohl, the technical director of R&D at ICM, an engineering company, is leading a team that in five to ten years may have cars running on highly efficient, clean, dirt-cheap ethanol that’s made not from corn but from soybean husks, wood scraps, grass—anything containing cellulose. “The development of cellulosic ethanol,“ says Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, “is the key to unlocking our new energy future.“ At about $1.50 a gallon to refine, and with 30 percent lower emissions than gasoline, it could replace more than half of the gas currently used and decrease oil imports by 50 percent—enough to make everyone pay attention.