Humans are undoubtedly too reliable on fossil fuels, which needs to change in the near if we want to escape the dooms of climate change. One of the best resources we have is solar power, because of its unlimited supply. We would only need .025 of the sun’s energy to to power the entire earth. Solar power is also cheap: if a method to collect and store the energy is made, the energy would essentially be free.
IKEA’s innovation lab Space10 is making plans for a new prototype for the installation of solar energy installation in local communities. The prototype would use a local micro grid and enable the selling of excess energy to others on a block chain platform. Space 10 refers to this as SolarVille after researching how solar energy can change peoples lives in the near future. It’s nothing new to see the ikea lab’s sustainability goals and initiatives. For example one sector of IKEA’s business. Called Ingka that runs in IKEA’s across 30 countries, pledged to bring affordable solar technology to homes by 2025. IKEA also sells solar panels in the UK since 2013 , and launched a battery and solar panel kit in 2017.
As of now SolarVille is a scale model village, 1:50 , where the homes have mini solar panels that gather energy from the sun. The buildings are wired together, that creates a micro-grid which enable everyone to charge the energy. Conceptually, people will generate excess energy by installing solar panels or using less energy themselves. A technology platform will enable them to sell the extra energy to their neighbors without a conciliator, instead using a secure platforms transactions can be done directly from neighbor to neighbor.
A fraction of the project is meant to lower energy costs, since the platform wouldn’t require a company in the middle. “Centralized energy systems are often too slow and economically inadequate to reach the billion people who remain locked in energy poverty,” Bas Van De Poel, creative director at Space10, “SolarVille showcases that, when working in tandem, technologies such as solar panels, micro grids, and block chain open new opportunities: off-grid systems allowing people to leapfrog traditional grid electricity.”
The prototype is a tiny village made of wooden houses designed by Danish architecture firm Sachs Nottveit, which is located at Space 10’s new gallery and will soon be on global tour, will be open to the public to play with. To help visualize the the flow of energy, the designers put in LED lights that glow when moving from to another. You will also be able to look below the hood and see the energy transactions among the neighbors going through the block chain technology.
A real world applications that use the concepts is the Brooklyn Micro grid, it is an experimental local grid that harvests energy that then distributed and traded with in the neighborhood. Another application is a startup in Bangladesh is using a similar system, using renewable energy sources. The remaining question is how to replicate these models across many communities world wide.