Thursday, August 03, 2006

Power to the People

Or should it be power from the people.
Why devastate the environment to build a hydroelectric dam (Clyde Dam comes to mind - Damn the Dam) or burn coal to create electricity, strange idea that - kind of like feeding cows more than they produce in food? Or if the very thought of nuclear power sends shudders down your spine and not in a good way, then consider this: Domestic wind power.

Here in New Zealand I think this would be an outstanding move forward. High levels of home ownership. Reasonably green. Reasonably affluent. Why not integrate a requirement to harvest a certain amount of energy from every dwelling? Why not integrate wind turbines into every large structure - don't tall inner city buildings create vortexes at their base? Never mind gigantic, ugly wind farms (no, not The Beehive) that no-one wants in their back yard (we are a nation of NIMBIES)...

Why not indeed...


There are emerging trends, and there are trends, that, are so well-documented, so extensively mapped, so researched to death, that the only thing left to do is to turn them into, you guessed it, innovative new stuff for your customers…

Consumer generated power Continuing concerns about climate change and skyrocketing energy prices are fuelling interest in alternative sources of energy. One of consumers’ major complaints though is the lack of making a real impact: separating bottles and papers only goes so far. Sensing a real opportunity, British/Scottish Windsave launched the Windsave 1000 system, a three-bladed fan (1.75 m in diameter) that connects to a building's standard mains supply. The turbine is quiet, with noise levels comparable to the sound of a person talking at normal volume. It produces approximately 1kw of electricity, enough to run a TV, DVD player, computer, fridge/freezer and several lights.

Windsave is now partnering with British Gas to market and install roof-top turbines; trials will be carried out in Scotland and South-West England later this year. Engineers from British Gas will supply and install all equipment for GBP 1,500, and it's projected that the turbines will save households up to GBP 100 on their annual electricity bills. With government-funded rebates and subsidies, consumers could earn back their initial investment in less than 6 years.

In the US, Arizona-based Southwest Windpower rustled up USD 8 million in venture capital for a similar approach: it’s developing a new 1.8 KW Skystream 3.7 turbine. The company claims the Skystream is a breakthrough in residential power appliances, that will change how homes and small businesses receive electricity. Any extra energy is fed into the utility grid, spinning the customer's meter backwards. Which of course turns these consumers into green minipreneurs. The market? There are a LOT of wind-swept places on this globe.

Who’s next?

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