Divergent energy: The introduction of electric cars to the island, like the new e20 battery-run vehicle, should not be seen as just another mode of transport but should be assessed from a ‘divergent energy perspective’. *Photo supplid
Divergent energy: The introduction of electric cars to the island, like the new e20 battery-run vehicle, should not be seen as just another mode of transport but should be assessed from a ‘divergent energy perspective’. *Photo supplid

Last weekend my wife and I took my son and one of his friends to see the latest teen movie sensation Divergent and it gave me an idea for this weeks ‘Energy Matters’ column that is well — shall we say — a little divergent! 

The basic premise of the story, which is set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago at some time in the future, is that the people of the world are now divided into five distinct factions, based on their inherent human virtues. 

Each faction has their own specific role to play in the new world order and as each young citizen comes of age they are tested using an hallucinogenic serum that helps them manifest their innermost character and indicates to them which faction they should choose. 

The problem arises when the movie’s heroin Beatrice ‘Triss’ Prior is told that she has the attributes of not one but several factions, which means she is ‘Divergent’!

Divergents think and behave independently and their approach to problem solving is unorthodox and innovative. 

Divergents by definition are considered a threat to the stability of the government of the new world order. Because their behaviour is unpredictable and because they don’t conform to pre-defined norms, they need to be eradicated for the greater good. If you want to know how it all turns out — go see the movie, I’m not giving anything else away!

I can say that what the movie highlights is our basic human habit of wanting to compartmentalize things into distinct boxes, such that we feel a sense of comfort and familiarity with their placement, and then we can relate to them with a sense of experience and predictability, rather than experimentation and exploration. 

‘Divergent’ thinking

While this is all very rational, it does nothing to encourage the type of ‘divergent’ thinking and spirit of innovation that is so desperately needed in our country today if we are going to find a way out the very deep hole we have dug for ourselves over the last several years.   

The growth of technology and in particular developments in the world of alternative energy are becoming less and less compartmentalized. 

The workforce needed to develop and manage the technology must constantly adapt to an ever- changing set of opportunities for the exploitation of the very technologies they are still in the process of developing. 

Everything is fluid and nothing exists in isolation. Thinking ‘inside the box’ is no longer an option and traditional concepts of specialization are redundant in today’s technological arena.

One example of how technologies are crossing traditional boundaries was reported last week in The New York Times: “As more homeowners generate their own electricity from solar panels, they still need power from a utility after the sun goes down. Now, automakers say they may have an answer, by storing that carbon-free energy in electric car batteries for later use. Honda on Tuesday is introducing an experimental house in this environmentally conscious community to showcase technologies that allow the dwelling to generate more electricity than it consumes. 

“It is one example of the way solar companies and carmakers are converging on a common goal: to create the self-sufficient home, with a car’s battery as the linchpin. Ford, Tesla Motors and Toyota are pursuing strategies similar to that.

 Vehicles and energy

“It’s a new world in terms of vehicles operating not as isolated artefacts but as being part of a larger energy system, and I think the greatest opportunity for automakers is figuring out how their vehicles become part of that system,” said Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, which provided the building site and the heating and lighting technology for the Honda Smart Home.”

In Bermuda we are just beginning to see the introduction of electric vehicles, all of which have significant battery storage capabilities. 

While there are perhaps only five on the road at present, let’s stop assessing them solely by their traditional attributes as nothing more than a mode of transportation. 

Instead, let’s assess their potential from a ‘divergent energy perspective’ and who knows, we may start a trend that could begin to shape our very own new world order. 

Comments and suggestions to info@bae.bm

Nick Duffy is Divisional Manager at Bermuda Alternate Energy.