It is no mystery that our human life is dependent upon the energy furnished by our environment. Without powerful energy sources, we would not be able to travel around the globe as fast as we can today, we also would not enjoy communicating with our peers as if they were in front of us.
According to the 2019 edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, we are still heavily relying on non-renewable energy sources such as coal, gas and oil by a share of 85% to maintain our life style. The slight 8% share detained by renewable sources is obviously not sufficient to match today’s queries. Now knowing this, at what price are we leading this lifestyle ? Are we really meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs ?
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
The truth is that we are heading to an irreversible climate catastrophe that might occur sooner than expected, our indifference towards the use of renewables leading us to an alarming sustainability problem. Our “economic-growth” oriented energy consumption might even prove anti-productive since it will prevent the future generations from fulfilling their dreams and aspirations, they will have to handle the consequences of what we greedily consumed.
Tim Worth once stated that : “Energy is essential for development, and sustainable energy is essential for sustainable development.” In order to achieve sustainable development, I do believe that a fast energy transition is required, the fastest ever. While historical transitions between major energy sources have occurred, most of these shifts lasted over a century or longer and were stimulated by resource scarcity, high labor costs, and technological innovations.
In practical terms, how can the open source community contribute to this energy change ? How can you contribute to the solutions that will actually make things change ?
It is undeniable that most of us if not all of us want to have a serious positive impact on the environment, one that would be memorable and would make us proud of our work.
Indeed, one can say that education is the best mean of changing things, as it is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world as Nelson Mandela once said.
On a local scale, there are initiatives that promote education concerning green energy sources. One great initiative is cos(h), which stands for Collective Open Source Hardware, and which promotes open source education and hardware as a mean for building a more sustainable future.
The initiative presents Open Educational Resources about hardware projects which aim to spray the joy of building functional energy systems such as a Solarbox for example. This joy can be be shared by teachers in fablabs, schools and universities therefore building a generation of active citizens.
One can also say that entrepreneurship is the fastest and most reliable way to impact the environment, and one of the greatest examples which can be given concerning this category is the one of Tesla.
In the words of its founder Elon Musk, the goal of the company is to “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible”. The company not only made a part of its cars open-source, but it also did the same with its patents hence making the electric vehicle market to grow more rapidly.
A second interesting initiative in this category is Skavenji, a French startup that was created back in 2016. The start-up aspires to ease the production of energy at home so as to make it similar to growing tomatoes on a balcony.
The company aspires to create “energy makers” by offering an ecosystem for generating energy at home. Its solution consists of a box supplied with a small solar panel that makes it possible to connect small sources of electricity, as well as an open source mobile app and open source platform that aims to create a community of enthusiasts who devise, construct, test, use and spread new solutions for the microgeneration of electricity.
For the anecdote, Skavenji is formed of two words : Scavenge, which means retrieve, and Energy. Two words that cleverly summarize the aspirations of this uprising startup.
A third option for contributing to the green energy transition is to join a foundation, such as the Linux Foundation of Energy. The LFE aims to grow and sustain open source in the energy and electricity sectors by bringing together different actors in the industry.
It acts as an umbrella to multiple complementary projects such as the GXF for controlling and monitoring smart devices and the RIAPS for building effective, secure and powerful distributed Smart Grid applications.
The foundation aspires to build the Internet of Energy using only renewable energy sources such as Wind, solar, and hydraulic ones. The added value consists on a common core between infrastructures to make communication easier between different operators, since all the existing technologies are proprietary ones.
Some may say that there is no innovation since there already exists a network of energy. However, the change concerns the numbers of nodes implied in it since every home will be able to produce and share his green energy.
All in all, most of the elements for leading a green energy transition are between our hands. In our quest for a greener sustainable world for the future generations, one can have a huge impact by acting on one of the three sectors presented above.
We must recognize that we do not have a second earth to consume after the first one will hostile. Let’s not forget this native American proverb : “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.