Posts tagged ‘crowdsourcing’

January 22, 2013

Energy co-operatives

Co-operatives are traditionally an efficient and successful way for communities that aim to live or work with certain benefits through co-operation. Co-operatives are usually created by people working, living together or by those consuming products or services as a group.

Utility co-operatives have been around in the US since the New Deal but recently there are more and more such co-operatives set up all around the world, which focus on green and alternative energy usage.

These co-ops provide an opportunity for local people to invest into various projects, for example setting up new solar panels or a wind turbine. Then, the co-operative provides interest for these investors from feed-in-tariffs or by selling electricity.

In Germany, the number of energy co-operatives has tripled to more than 600 in two years, with over 80,000 active members. The largest of these is EWS, where 99.2 per cent of the electricity comes from renewable sources and 0.8 per cent is from the co-generation of heat and power (CHP).

But Germany is not alone. In the UK, there are also an increasing number of such community initiatives.

Brixton Energy already has two existing solar projects in the Loughborough Estate with hundreds of square metres of solar panels, while Community Energy Warwick raised enough money for solar panels to be placed on the roofs of the Stratford upon Avon and Warwick hospitals. Meanwhile, the Brighton Energy Co-op recently set up “the largest solar system in Sussex”, with installations in Shoreham-by-sea, Portslade and Brighton.

But the list goes on: Leominster Community Solar, Ovesco, Bath & West Community Energy, Westmill Wind Farm, Baywind Energy, Hockerton Housing Project, Boyndie Wind Farm, and many others – with a total of 75 utility co-ops listed with Co-operatives UK.

Renewable energy co-operatives thus could mean the future for renewables with local communities joining forces to gain access to cheap (or free) energy sources by working together.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse 

July 29, 2011

How The ‘Crowd’ Can Save Energy by Collaboration

One of the trends of the Web 2.0 era is crowdsourcing, enabling the development of new technologies, to pool knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia) or to solve issues with the power of the public (for example when BP was crowdsourcing ideas from the public on how to address the oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon rig ). Furthermore, ’crowdfunding’ enables the financing of various objectives, such as support for disaster victims, political campaigns or even enthusiastic entrepreneurs in developing countries (e.g. by collecting money from the public, the crowd.

Green crowdsourcing examples

Crowdsourcing is spreading and there are already several green ideas

Green Watch for instance provides ozone level and noise pollution data updates sent from mobile phones of users in Paris, while The Urban Forest Map is an inventory for trees living in San Francisco, also providing some information of CO2 saved or the amount of rainwater filtered by them. Corporations are also finding ways to engage people; Sony’s Open Planet competition gathers green technology ideas from anyone.

A renewable energy-related example is the One Block Off the Grid initiative, which enables potential buyers of solar panels to ‘meet’ and install these devices, which would otherwise be unaffordable for them.

Carrotmob organizes shopping sprees for users at specific shops, which allocate a certain percentage of the purchases on the selected day to become more environmentally friendly, for instance by reducing refrigeration costs through improving existing systems.

The potential of green crowdsourcing for energy efficiency

Besides several renewable energy-related crowdsourcing initiatives, dozens of new projects are launched all the time, thus there is a vast potential for solving everyday issues of energy efficiency in this simple way.

One of the latest examples include over a hundred of energy-saving ideas collected by Slate magazine last year from its readers, offering ideas for easy changes.

Crowdfunding also has some great case studies in this area. A café owner for example asked for small donations from its customers to be able to set up energy-efficient lighting, and managed to collect the necessary amount only in six months.

Another crowdfunding project is Solarmosaic in Oakland, California, where the organization collects money for local solar projects from the public rather than banks, by selling them solar tiles.

Hence there is a significant potential for further crowdsourcing projects and initiatives for saving energy with the help of us and the people around us.


Written for Energy Saving Warehouse



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