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Q&A with 11th Hour Project

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OpenIDEO is particularly excited about the Renewable Energy Challenge because it invites contributions that focus on community needs and inspires creative solutions that reflect the diversity of those needs. 

We sat down to chat with Jamie Dean, Program Director for The 11th Hour Project, about what renewable energy means to her on a personal level. Check out her thoughts on energy and her Research highlights from our community so far:

In a few words, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at 11th Hour Project

I direct The 11th Hour’s program on Renewable Energy & Climate, which makes grants to organizations across the U.S. that move us closer to our goal of 100% renewable energy. I’ve spent the last 7 years working in philanthropy mostly on sustainable agriculture and biofuels, and more recently on promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. Mixed in there I’ve done some work on sustainable development in Eastern Africa, sustainable fishing, and food sovereignty in Oaxaca, Mexico.


Why does 11th Hour Project feel so passionate about activating communities around renewable energy?

Renewable energy adoption in many places around the globe is moving much more slowly than we would like, even though it is often a cheaper alternative to fossil fuel energy sources! We see communities as a critical piece in the puzzle since they can affect change quickly and without massive policy shifts. Communities can implement solutions in ways that work best with local conditions and traditions. And because there are so many types of different renewable energy solutions, each community has the opportunity to choose what works best for them. We are excited about the creativity that exists at the community level and can’t wait to see all of the ideas generated. 


What excites you most about this OpenIDEO challenge?

I truly believe that we have great renewable energy technology and solutions today, but for many reasons this isn’t the main narrative that we hear and many don’t think a renewable energy revolution can happen today. This challenge helps to fight that notion by generating positive ideas that demonstrate the massive interest and momentum in renewable energy, and create the opportunity for more of it. I’m also thrilled that this is the first OpenIDEO renewable energy challenge, and hope it paves the way for many more!


What has inspired you most so far?

I am floored that we have received over 175 contributions since we launched, from people all over the world, and on a wide range of renewable energy ideas. It points to the multitude of solutions that exist, if only we can come together and collaborate, which is inspiring. I’ve loved many of the research posts but here are a few favorites: Kopernik’s Wonder Women Clean Technology Agents in Indonesia, which makes clean energy technology available in remote areas of Indonesia, while also providing an opportunity for women to become micro-entrepreneurs. Small Wind!, which focuses on the use of small-scale wind turbines in communities, and makes wind a more viable distributed energy resource. And lastly, Printable Solar Cells, which can someday make solar much more affordable and accessible. I’ve also been inspired by a few posts that have focused on solar roadways, and others focused on harnessing energy from riding your bike. 

Thanks Jamie. We look forward to more inspirational Research contributions and tapping into your insights as we move into the Ideas phase in December!

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