Hello and welcome to this week’s Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week, we make like Kermit and go green.
Watching my energy bill steadily rise is a painful experience, and it’s not only worrying my bank manager, but my social conscience too. So I started thinking about alternative energies and green innovations.
Solar panels are the obvious place to start, especially with the weather we’ve had over the last few weeks. Companies like Sun Power in the US are making it easy for consumers to have their own solar panels on their properties, either through an owning or leasing model. The demand has been so great that they are looking to expand into Europe next year.
But solar panels don’t just have to go on the roof of your house they can also go on your windows or the screen on your phone. Thanks toUCLA, these thin clear solar panels can be placed anywhere and capture up to 80% of the sun’s energy that reaches it.
But rather than creating new sources of energy, how about reducing our consumption altogether? In sunnier climes, air conditioners are a large part of the energy bill and researchers at Harvard may have the solution. They have developed a film that covers your windows that has tiny rivers of water in it. The water keeps the windows cooler and therefore the rest of the house reducing the need for air con.
Often it’s the accumulation of small actions that make the difference like switching off your standby light on your TV or turning off a light in a room you’re not using. Scaling up this principle is Tvilight, a street light system that senses if someone is nearby and only then turns on. In the future, this could save Europe a predicted €10 billion a year.
Another example of big thinking comes from a civil engineer who built a glacier. Due to global warming in areas like Jammu and Kashmir, farmers are suffering from a lack of melted glacier water in the early months of the year to irrigate their crops. Chewang Norphel realized the solution was to build new glaciers to replace the ones that had disappeared.
In all these examples, a problem has been broken down into its individual components and improved incrementally. This can be through technology or simply by reframing it and taking a different approach. The GB cycling team referred to this process as marginal gains and it’s a process every business should adopt. In many cases, business boosting solutions will be in energy saving and green tech. This will not only reduce brands’ bottom lines, but increase affinity with consumers as71% factor environmental impact into purchase decision and43% would actually pay more for green products.