I don’t need to tell you that the world is in crisis. We have such amazingly advanced technology yet we are unable to eliminate poverty and climate degradation. Every day that passes the need for energy grows while the supply diminishes. I believe there’s only one thing holding us back and that’s our mind set.
It comes down to a choice. Either you believe anything is possible and that the state of the world can change for the better or you resign yourself to the fact that there's nothing you can do. If you believe that you can’t make a difference then you won’t. It takes visionaries to point out that anything is possible. As long as you believe that there is a way you will never stop looking for it.
Pavlov had an experiment where he locked dogs in cages and sent an electric current through periodically (cruel I know). Obviously the dogs try to escape the pain but over time they stopped trying. Even after Pavlov opened the cages they still didn’t try to get out. They were resigned to the fact that there was no way out and were content to endure the suffering. In a sense we are no different than those dogs. We are so used to the suffering in the world, why try and change it? It will ultimately just fail. But it only takes one dog to notice the way out to set the example to the rest. I believe we now live in that time.
A few years ago I was sitting on a ferry in Ireland contemplating the struggle in this worldwide crisis. Like the rest of the world Ireland’s economy has gone bust and more and more people are depending on the State to provide for them. Obviously this is not a sustainable scenario. It's leeching the country dry. While I was sitting there I became aware of how the ferry was bobbing up and down in the harbour. That's a massive 40tons being lifted every few seconds. Then I started wondering why that energy is not being put to good use. Then I had a spark of inspiration...
What if the energy crisis and unemployment can be linked? If all those unemployed just started building cheap green energy components for wave and wind generators, jobs can be created, the energy crisis can be alleviated AND the earth can be saved. That's 3 birds with one stone. A week before I was watching a TED talks by the writer Elizabeth Gilbert. She made the point that so many people have creative ideas put don’t react when they get that spark. So I grabbed a pen and jotted down my basic premise. Unfortunately I was in my comfort zone so the idea became just another good intention on the shelf.
A few years later my life got derailed and I was forced to take a long hard look at what I really want to do with my life. I needed a purpose! Just working 9 to 5 and having an ordinary life was no longer good enough. I traveled to New Zealand looking for answers. It was there that I realised that if I want to have a meaningful life I had to look outside of own self interests. My old idea resurfaced and this time I gave it more attention. I wanted a higher purpose in life; now it was so clear. I was so fired up! I was going to save the world! I even updated my Facebook status! I have a purpose! So you all know what happened next? A week later I was back in Auckland drinking flat whites starting my standard job hunting process again. Yeah right! Like I’m going to get out of my comfort zone to help others. As if! But the idea didn’t want to leave my mind and some ideas just can’t be ignored. So I started thinking how to implement my plan.
For maximum impact I decided to base my business model on the social business concept laid out by the Nobel peace winner Professor Yunus. Next I considered where in the world I could implement this idea. South Africa was an obvious choice. Due to the energy crisis SA has opened up its national energy grid to any independent power provider as long as it can produce enough electricity. Furthermore an additional green tariff is paid if the energy is from a renewable source.
The next step is to get the rural communities involved. If someone were to train the communities on how to construct simple generators they would be able to sell the electricity and make a small income for themselves while helping the country's economy grow. Obviously they would be too small to sell directly to the national grid so instead they sell the power to a venture company. That is where the power of this business plan lies. By taking a reasonable percentage of the profits generated the company can generate enough income to start more projects and get more people to start generating power.
The technologies I have in mind are wind generators and my own wave generator idea. Wind generators are an obvious choice. They are simple to construct and maintain. The only disadvantage is that you need wind and a space to deploy them. Luckily there is major research in this area so finding an optimal solution won’t be a problem.
I’m not considering solar power because I believe it cannot be constructed independently by rural communities at this time. I want to avoid dependence as much as possible. However, I’m sure someone will figure out a DIY solar generator that’s effective enough for general deployment.
The second technology being considered is the wave generator concept I originally envisioned on the Ferry. Again the focus is on simplicity. Please view my other next video on how this be done.
In summary, the company will work in partnership with the local community. The company will provide the training and starting materials as well as the support for selling the electricity. The community will provide the labour for constructing, deploying and maintaining the simple generators. The profits are split and the social business grows and more people can be helped.
As the famous Ockham's razor states "the simplest solution is most likely the correct one”. With the main focus being on developing countries it’s imperative that the concept can be executed with minimal resources and know-how. The focus must always remain on helping people help themselves.