Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Ideas

It's 2008! Time for new stuff. Back in December that's what I was thinking. After years of reading books on innovation, self-empowerment, creativity, and business, I thought the new year might be a good opportunity to use this blog to prove a point: great ideas are a dime a dozen.

For some reason my friends and co-workers have always gravitated towards me when there's an idea they wanted to share. They were almost always great ideas too. Of course, they were always secretive about it, and worried that someone might steal it.

My first question would always be, "When are you going to do something about it?" The answer would always come in the form of a cracked smile and darting eyes. This of course meant that there was never any real intent to do anything about it. They just wanted to be recognized for their creativity, and there's nothing wrong with that.

What's odd, though, is that there are a lot of people with great ideas, and a lot of people looking for them. People who have them, and people who need them. So, my new year's resolution was going to be to post a great new idea every day for 100 days. But...I came across some that were too good to share. Someone might steal it...or so I thought.

So, I've come back to my senses. But, instead of listing each idea, I thought I share the fundamental concepts that I came across during my week of brainstorming. They basically deal with how we accomplish our most basic needs, and how we can do them better.

For example, let's take the ordinary home. Our shelter. How can that be improved? Well, if built correctly a typical homeowner can reduce their energy bill to almost zero in almost any climate. Think I'm lying? Check out Zero Energy Homes. The web site is a little out of the ordinary by the principles discussed there are sound.

Not everyone can get their home built from scratch though, but that doesn't rule out the use of insulation, solar energy, or using the almost constant temperature of the ground beneath some homes to help maintain a steady temperature year round.

Oh, and that solar thing. With free solar power, now you can charge your electric vehicle(s) without additional cost. As an aside, my close friends know that I am strongly against electric vehicles. As a population, we can't dispose of AA batteries properly. Can you imagine what would happen if there were millions of batteries, each well over a hundred pounds that need to be disposed of? And there doesn't seem to be many people who consider where the power comes from to charge a car battery. From an inefficient power plant, that transmits energy through inefficient wires. At least with a car powered in part by solar power at the home, you can add some efficiency back.

More on solar. There are companies that recognize that the cash flow that goes to utility companies could easily pay to finance a loan to install solar panels, and they're out there and willing to give you cash to get started. Check out Clean Power Finance.

Once you start combining all of this technology, your simple little home becomes an energy producer instead of just an energy consumer. Now imagine a home that's super efficient and produces excess energy with solar panels or a generator driven by an air-powered engine.

Air-Powered Engines

Or maybe by water.

Xogen Video

[Note: There used to be about a dozen videos on YouTube with Stanley Meyer explaining in detail how this works. They've since been removed because of a copyright infringement claim by What a shame.]

Your home is now an energy producer. Not a major one, but you can feed back into the energy grid. In California, though, you don't get money back for energy you feed back into the grid, but what if you could? What if you could not only feed energy back into the grid, but track it online? The logistics behind managing the cash and energy flowing between so many independent energy producers would require some sophisticated modeling and programming. But, wait a minute, Google already does that type of stuff by tracking its Adwords and Adsense users. Maybe that's why they're investing in Nanosolar, a company that is currently producing solar cells cheaper and faster than anyone in their newly minted manufacturing plant. I'm sure they saw the logic in it before they put solar cells on their entire campus

So, that was one of the lines of thought that I came up with. Oh, and one last thing, if you are in a home that produces energy (electricity, hot water, car charging) independently of the utility companies, you're risk of being without power in the case of a natural disaster or national emergency is far lower than someone dependent on the grid. No more worrying about loss of power due to storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fallen trees or power lines, etc. (at least not as much worrying). You're all good. Not only that, you're "environmental footprint" becomes a lot smaller now that energy isn't being wasted when it's sent to you to power your electric car.

The eco-friendly, green industry is ripe for the plucking, and everyone benefits. At least that was President Bill Clinton's view on David Letterman, and I'm inclined to agree.

Clinton on Letterman

So, that's what I started with. There are so many areas to address (web-based energy production tracking, solar panel installation and financing, home-building with recyclable materials, financial transactions for independent energy producers, disaster preparation services, and so on). I'm not worried about anyone stealing ideas anymore. There's more than enough to go around.