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Renewable Energy Challenge: Announcing Our Top Ideas

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The Renewable Energy Challenge has acted as a powerful catalyst for devising innovative solutions to a long touted problem: transitioning to renewable energy. This challenge encouraged solutions that put energy decisions into the hands of the communities, which is why it was extra exciting to see many ideas that started from members of our community coming together to form new solutions. We're impressed with the quality of all the ideas and the rich conversations that came into this challenge over the past three and a half months – and now we're excited to recognize eight Top Ideas. Join us in celebrating these inspiring solutions that will help communities become rapidly renewable.


The Giving Tree  // Submitted by: Ramiro Sanchez Caballero 

Community wind is often overlooked as a method for transitioning communities to renewable energy, and The Giving Tree brings it to the forefront in the beautiful and simple way. Able to produce energy through it's spinning "leaves" with just a slight breeze, The Giving Tree is packed with opportunities to provide function and aesthetics. Imagine being able to charge your cell phone while sitting against the trunk, or have street lamps powered by its silent and constant whirring. We're excited about the potential build upon and become inspired by this delightfully elegant solution.  



Energy Lend Submitted by: Shuting Zeng

Imagine a social lending site specifically for Renewable Energy. Energy Lend brings together organizations, individuals, social enterprises, providers and lenders in order to spur the desire to become renewable into action. Building relationships around renewables is a powerful way to result in a rapid transition – we can't wait to see how this idea continues to evolve and the partnerships that are forged in order to increase the communities and organizations impacted. 

Avava Systems Submitted by: Benjamin Kimmich 

AVAVA Systems is designing compelling, sustainable and affordable housing – take a look at the their idea to see some of the charming structures they've already built in the Bay Area. Their designs could make the most stubborn city dweller rethink living in a tiny home, but their aspirations go far beyond the Bay Area demographic. Avava Systems makes it easy for any community to create their own housing with renewable energy fully integrated. There's great potential for this idea to have a massive impact on the way we think about housing in low income areas or even slums – and Avava is considering these options in a smart and human-centered fashion.  

SunSaluter Submitted by: Jake Schual-Berke 

This simple solar panel rotator increases solar panel efficiency by 30% and produces clean drinking water – all with a frame made of out wood or bamboo and a suspended water container. Sunsaluter is a simple and effective way to make solar power more for individuals living in rural corners of the world. The team is committed to a human-centered approach as they continue to grow and transition communities to renewable energy and we can't wait for the OpenIDEO community to help.   

Pasteurization Powered by PoopSubmitted by: Sarah Rizk 

This team of Stanford electrical engineering PhDs have invented a new, low-cost, low energy method for pasteurizing milk – and it all starts with cow poop. The methane emissions in the poop from a single cow have the ability to pasteurize ten times the milk it produces, and this team is capitalizing on that ability. Not only is it a closed loop system, their technology can can eliminate milk spoilage which could boost income, empower local food-sheds, save lives, and cut the 4% global CO2 & CH4 from farms & industry. In this case, poop is power!  

The Solar Seed FundSubmitted by: Andreas Karelas  

The Solar Seed Fund isn't your grandma's crowdfunding platform. Yes, they raise money through crowdfunding to install solar panels. But, the solar panels are only installed on community-serving nonprofit organizations and worker-owned cooperatives. And then, as those organizations pay them back, the money is re-invested into more communities driven solar projects. It's a positive feedback cycle that encourage communities to rapidly transition to solar and the team is all about feedback – let's help them make this model even more successful.  

5 Houses Up, 5 Houses DownSubmitted by: Karen Marie Bacolod 

This idea takes door-to-door to a whole new level. Current solar owners in communities will become ambassadors and changemakers in their communities, and invite their neighbors to go on the solar transition journey with them. We love that this idea brings people back to face-to-face interaction in a digital age and focuses not on the fact that solar can save money, but that solar can build relationships and strengthen communities. They've done some impressive research already and we're excited about the potential for this idea to keep building momentum.  

Be Energy, Build the Future Submitted by: The Cali Meetup 

What if being active meant building a sustainable future? Using this question as inspiration, the Cali Meetup combined different energy generation technologies and applied it to a variety of settings – kids playing at a playground, teens working out at a gym, people walking to work, dancing at a club. And they took it a step further: imagine turning your activity into energy, this energy into saving for the local energy companies, and the savings going back to communities that need it most. We’re excited to see the creativity continue with this idea.



In the upcoming months, we'll offer resources and support to these ideas with help from our sponsor, The 11th Hour Project. Each idea is unique in its content and stage of development, and we'll do our best to identify areas of need that we can help address.



We hope that everyone who contributed to this challenge continues to collaborate, refine and work at bringing your ideas to life. An Impact Story is a great way to summarize your idea and progress, continue to activate the community around your idea, and help our team promote your idea across our networks. Use this template to guide your thinking.

1. Did this challenge change the way you think, open you up to new communities or generate new relationships in your life?  Share your Inspiring Impact Story.
2. Are you working on an idea that needs collaborators, implementors or experts? Request the community's support.
3. Did you develop a great idea, but have no time to implement it? Request someone else adopts your idea.
We've been so inspired by the creativity and hard work from the OpenIDEO community – thank you for joining together to devise solutions that help communities rapidly transition to renewable energy. 
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DISTRIBUTED POWER GENERATION While the discovery of renewable technologies such as solar power and wind play a crucial role in reducing carbon emission, so do the business models that are used to bring these technologies into the market. Distributed Power Generation is both a technology and a business model that can be used to disrupt the stronghold that utilities have on the energy market. Deregulation of energy markets could be the solution to the problem, provided that Governments are committed to not using regulation as a means to thwart market activity that would favour renewable technologies over traditional fossil fuel non renewables such as coal and gas. Atttached herewith is an article that explores the idea of Energy Utilities being disrupted by Distributed Power Generation:

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