Is Nano-Generation the Solution We Need?


Clemes Betzel, president of G24 Innovations, has written an interesting comment piece for the BBC on the importance of nano-generation. This is the practice of creating devices that come equipped with the means to power themselves. Wind-up radios or solar powered cell phone chargers are good examples.

As governments wake up to climate change, many solutions are being put forward. Large scale power generation and distribution projects seem to be the Governments answer to climate change, but Betzel believes that they're not the only solution, or in fact the best. "Policy makers and politicians continue to focus their efforts on large-scale grid networks; they are not offering serious backing to the alternatives. Microgeneration does not suffer from the same inefficiencies as large grid systems because the electricity is not transmitted through wires over many miles - what is generated is used." Micro-generation could be a good solution, but it isn't cheap and isn't being funded enough by Governments to be viable for individuals, "Small-scale generation in the UK, such as photovoltaic solar roofing panels, are currently reliant on government subsidies, which have not been forthcoming. The Budget in March saw the government raise its £12m fund for home microgeneration grants to just £18m. This fund has to last three years and the only way of coping with demand has been to hold three-monthly application windows where grant quotas are reached within 30 minutes - this is a woefully inadequate solution."

Continuing down the scale, from large power plants to home based generation, we arrive at an even smaller level of generation where devices generate power themselves - nano-generation. The recent Sony concepts we highlighted here on TreeHugger show just how well this can work. By rotating a dynamo Sony's camera created enough power to take the next picture.

With devices creating their own power, you start reduce the dependency on micro-generation or large scale power plants. "Nanogeneration is not reliant on government subsidies, nor a national grid system, and represents an affordable way for people to play a role in the generation of green power."

He highlights how much of an impact that this could have if it was adopted widely, "Consider this: the Energy Savings Trust estimates that mobile phone chargers left plugged in waste over £60m and are responsible for a quarter of a million tonnes of CO2 in the UK every year. Now consider the fact that all it would take to wipe out these emissions would be the introduction of a small photovoltaic device to replace each charger - one which is flexible, durable, cheap to produce and, crucially, works in ambient (indoor) light."

The implications of this are enormous; all that is needed is for companies to start accepting it as possible and creating products. Clemes Betzel is in the business of creating nano-generation products himself, and hopefully Sony will go ahead and create their devices commercially. We'll see in the next couple of years if nano-generation becomes as popular as it should. Perhaps reducing the amount of power we require from the grid and increasing amounts of sustainable power generation can meet in the middle. :: BBC

See also :: New Solar-Powered Phone Unveiled :: Hand Cranked Cell Phone Charger :: Solar Power Through Your Phone's LCD Screen