NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes in today's more digitally linked society and that has massive implications for the energy sector. For instance, oil and gas giant Shell (RDS.A) is increasingly letting the general public share and debate emerging ideas through a sponsored LinkedIn forum called "Future of Energy by Shell" and, more importantly, through an accelerator-type social investment model appropriately named "GameChanger." GameChanger is a platform which allows entrepreneurs to submit proposals for technology ideas that could help Shell influence the future of energy and help it overcome a specific challenge relevant to its businesses.
While GameChanger was created in 1996, the growing influence of crowdsourcing on product development coupled with the global move to greatly improve energy efficiency is helping Shell build on a 10% success rate of turning outside ideas into reality. The biggest winner of this program to date was the advancement of a modular floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) plant in Australia called Prelude that has the ability to sustain the impact of a category 5 storm. A FLNG facility can allow Shell and its partners to bring new gas resources to markets by water without the need to pipe the gas through expensive infrastructure. This idea may actually gain renewed upside momentum with Europe desperately in search of more innovative ways to lower dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Also, it's my view EU members shouldn't look to swap one dependence on Russian gas with a new dependence on U.S. shale gas. Why? Shell's Prelude on its own is expected to produce over 3.6 million tonnes per annum of LNG, a total enough to meet the annual natural gas demand for the city of Hong Kong. So innovation such as the FLNG can certainly help buoy the EU's rising energy tide.