The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from R Campbell “Rwade”, professor of Industrial Design at SCAD, co-founder of Volta Collaborative, and maker of things cool. Read on for Rwade’s twisted logic regarding wind farms, home appliances and the future of power…..
“Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the everyday things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.”
~Booker T. Washington
In January of 2008 I left Stillwater, Oklahoma to pursue a MFA in Design Management at the Savannah College of Art and Design, bringing eight years of industrial design and product development experience from Kicker Audio. I began the MFA program in the middle of the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-2008 when Americans were feeling the effects of our recent downturn and our ever expanding national budget.
Two quarters into my MFA I was introduced to the ideas of T. Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State University alumni and business financier. T. Boone Pickens and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) were laying the foundation for 20% of U.S. electricity being produced from wind power by 2030. This goal was based on monumental scale wind farms within the U.S. wind corridor and offshore wind farms. Looking at economies of scale from one perspective (that bigger is better) was a key factor that allowed them to completely overlook small scale wind power.
Realizing the potential for small scale wind power, I began my research in the plains of Oklahoma and Coastal Georgia. Twisted Logic changes the paradigm that says big Midwestern wind farms hold the most promise for the implementation of wind power. Without challenging the physics of scale, Twisted Logic will construct an argument founded on three part:
- Big wind’s efficiency is significantly compromised by the distance from the wind corridor to major population centers through enormous infrastructure costs, environmental impact, and transmission energy loss.
- The major problems to be resolved are not technical, but behavioral and social attitudes regarding wind power.
- Metrics based on “efficiency” are wrong; rather than basing criteria on total costs to the power industry, immediate and short term payback to individual users should become the strategy for implementation.
Twisted Logic will build a model for the diffusion of small wind power based on these premises. By “twisting” the logic of scale, Twisted Logic proposes that wind generators undergo radical cost reduction design that can occur through reliance on lower wind speed performance and high volume production.
These products should be sold through conventional big box stores, and delivered at a cost comparable to high end appliances. By appealing to individual people’s motivation to propagation of millions of small “less efficient” turbines will exceed the real output of large remote wind farms.
Throughout history coastal cities have played significant roles in the dissemination of ideas. Due to Coastal Georgia’s strong and consistent wind currents, wind energy is well positioned for diffusion in the region. There is great potential for wind power generation in Coastal Georgia, but it is currently not being utilized due to obstacles around Policy, Perception, and Performance (3Ps). I am currently working on a framework that involves the 3Ps to help make it easier for communities to implement renewable energy systems.
Questions for thought:
What if communities could work together to own and produce their energy needs? What if there was a wind power generator that was the price of a high-end kitchen appliance? What if a wind power generator could pay for itself in eighteen months? I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts, so please reply to this blog.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”