07 Dec How to Start when there is Nothing — Renewables 2.0
I have some unusual friends who like to do things from scratch. I do not mean from a recipe and some things in a store bought in commodity sacks. I mean really scratch. I have always secretly admired such people and wanted to be one of them, but my gifts are not what work I can do with my hands. Sometimes I wish they were. Nothing tops being able to make something.
But I do not feel so bad because one thing I can make is organisations and companies that solve real problems. The joy of doing that is profound. It makes me sad that it has been made by some into something that is gilded and made so slick that real dreamers do not get to play as much as they did, but there are still opportunities for makers and dreamers–and homes for them. Our firm is one.
One problem that a friend of mine solved still boggles my mind. I have now dedicated over a year of my life to building a firm around that solution. At first it seemed the solution was to an industrial problem–how to cool down hot water while putting it to some use. There are several good solutions to that problem, and even though we came up with what was, in many ways, a better solution than most, it was still one of several. We were joining a mature industry–challenging and exciting but not the stuff dreams are made of.
Then something magical happened–in as much as there is magic in the world. We became so good at that problem, we realised we could solve a whole different class of problems–a class of problems largely unsolved but hugely important. I’m a bit of sci-fi groupie and anyone who loves Star Trek knows the ultimate solution to earth’s power needs in that series wasn’t dilithium crystals–it was geothermal.
My friends have built the next generation of geothermal–the new beginning of renewable energy–honestly, I think of it as Renewables 2.0. We build energy solutions around that technology–and it is astonishing stuff. Everyday I try to get my head around the basic capability: I’m not sure I ever will. Here’s why:
We can take a place–any place–anywhere on solid land–drill some relatively shallow holes in an area about the size of a football field–and make 100 kw of energy–day in and day out–practically forever with almost no maintenance. (!)
OK, cool. How much is a 100 kw anyway? Well, 1000 watts is about how much you use run your blow dryer while it is plugged in–1 kw. A typical house in the US uses about 12 kw at a time–much more than virtually any other place on earth except a few places in the Persian Gulf or maybe in Australia. In Africa, 100 KW will do everything a village of 500 people needs–maybe even more. It will light some lights, run the meat locker, power some fans and welders or hair trimmers and things like that. We can install such a machine for under half a million US dollars.
It doesn’t need sun or wind. It runs fine day or night. It makes almost no noise and it is 100% green–no emissions (zero) and no carbon except in that which was needed to make it and ship it–fairly little.
Being able to make and sell such a machine actually presented us with a problem! It is so ground-shaking–so game changing–who do you tell? Where do you start? Well, we are figuring that out–sadly too slowly, but we are figuring it out.
We knew right away our main aim is to put in in places where no power exists now. Ground zero for that problem is Africa. In a matter of months, the first devices will be fielded in Africa. Some are fielded now in Germany. Thousands and thousands more are coming. Call us up, we’ll tell you about it. Very little is secret. We know copies will come. We welcome that. We want to get the solution out–we’ll make our dosh–don’t worry. The game afoot now–as Sherlock likes to say–is massive distribution. The R&D is done. Have an idea how to roll out? Please, please tell us!