Our industrial civilisation is at a crossroads. Oil and other fossil fuels that have led to modern lifestyles for large parts of the global population are quickly drying up. The globally rising energy demand, exhaustion of fossil fuels and pollution ask urgent action for the transition to a sustainable energy system, based in renewable energy.
We believe that such radical change can only occur through cooperation and knowledge sharing through global communities. The principles of open development and free knowledge can be applied in at least two different ways:
- share knowledge and information about renewable energy concepts and technologies, particular products, manufacturers, public policies, grass roots action etc.
- share the designs and all knowledge needed for the efficient manufacturing of renewable energy generation systems (cf. free hardware / free manufacturing).
While the first form of knowledge sharing keeps us dependent on current proprietary manufacturers, it might be a solution for the very short term. The second form is more in line with the need for a radical change, but requires collaboration and pooling of resources in a much more intense way.
Renewable energy refers to all energy sources that can be derived from solar energy in a relative short time frame. While fossil fuels originate from solar energy, their storage took place millions of years ago, and therefore don't count as renewable energy. Renewable energy includes solar, wind, biomass, oceanic and hydraulic energy.
Energy in a Free Knowledge Society refers to energy that is from renewable sources and is generated in a distributed manner. Free Energy Technology only qualifies as such when the knowledge about that technology is provided as free knowledge, i.e. with the four freedoms. In other words, Free Energy Technology is free hardware to generate renewable energy in a manner that benefits the community.
To enable distributed energy generation, energy grids, and their legislation, need to allow and encourage the production of energy at each node in the grid. In other words, both industrial and domestic energy consumers should be able to convert into producers as well. The grid can then become an energy network that balances the needs with the supplies, with the potential to reach energy autonomy at the local level.
In each area different free knowledge based projects can be found. Here we name a few.
Onawi is a free hardware community project to develop a medium-sized wind turbine for electricity generation. "The main focus for development will be a medium size wind turbine design. Turbines of this size are especially suited for manufacture and use in low and middle income countries, and can also be used for community projects in the global North. Medium-sized wind power generation as this is a mature technology that can compete with fossil fuels , in particularly with diesel plants."
The Tiny Vertical Axis, or TiVA Wind Turbine, is a general prototype platform for a larger wind turbine, and also the prototype for the Apollo-NG Zephyr Wind-Park Construction Kit. It's a project from OSE Germany and follows the OSE principles (and therefore is free hardware). The team is based in Germany and is led by Alex Shure.
SolarFire has developed a prototype DIY solar concentrator that will be documented and shared under a free license. Their website contains interesting references and reflections on solar energy as well.
See an overview of renewable energy technology projects and other reference pages at Renewable Energy overview. Those interested should please express this on the mailing list or FTA Community Portal.
Energy in general
The Energy Torrent wiki is a platform where people share their energy projects as free knowledge. Appropedia has quite a few things as well.
There are various ways to get involved. You can help improving the wiki, join a free hardware project in the area of energy, write about it, collect references about current good practices in terms of technology, legislation etc.