Yesteryear, I wrote a little piece about a cool challenge. OpenIDEO, the online collaboration platform, posed a question to its audience of big thinkers: How might communities lead the rapid transition to renewable energy? During the five-week research phase, people posted insights about things like printable solar cells, successful green electricity cooperatives, and refugee camps as renewable energy laboratories.
Now, the collaboration has entered phase two: ideas. Participants have already cooked up peer-to-peer markets for distributed electricity, a collection program for used cooking oil, and a training on how to turn waste materials into biodiesel. The ideas part of the challenge ends Sunday, after which the internet community crowdsources feedback, refines a short list of proposals, and eventually settles on just a few “top ideas,” which will be connected to a wealth of knowledge — and potentially a wealth of wealth, if funders dig the concepts.
Jon Carson, the leader of SolarCity’s nationwide network of “solar ambassadors,” who empower their friends and neighbors to take charge of the transition to clean energy, says he’s anxious to see all these ideas come in. “We’ll scour the challenge for ways that the solar ambassadors program can get involved,” he says. So yeah, big resources are standing by, on the lookout for your killer ideas.
IDEO’s Joanna Spoth, who runs the challenge, wants to hear from energy buffs, but she also wants to hear from people just interested in energy. “If you have some sort of energy idea that’s been floating around in your head,” she says, “get it on the platform and get immediate feedback from everyone else that’s participating in the challenge.” And if you don’t have any world-changing energy scheme, you can provide insights to existing ideas, or just ask questions.
So sign up and share your big ideas on how to make community-led clean energy a reality. Co-owned solar farms? Off-grid, thorium-powered nuclear reactors? 3D-printed hydrogen fuel cells? Throw down your vision and maybe we’ll be writing about your success story in a few months.
I’ll leave you all with the highlights from the project’s Huddle, which gathered renewable energy experts with the collaborative community in December:
Same disclosures apply to this article as the one from November: Grist founder Chip Giller is on the advisory panel for the challenge, which is sponsored by the 11th Hour Project, a Grist funder started by Grist board member Wendy Schmidt.