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Public Plug: sharing excessive energy

The Public Plug showcases the generation of excessive renewable energy by a plug that is publicly available.

Photo of Anja Kantowsky

Written by

Often those who are generating renewable energy have more than they actually need.
In many communities it's possible to feed that into the system and get money back. This happens without anyone noticing it.

The Public Plug can be accessed publicly at the energy source.
E.g. if a city house has solar panels on its roof there will be a plug on street level. Whenever there is excessive energy, the plug is showing that it has power to share - maybe it is glowing.


What community does this idea benefit and who are the main players?

This idea is for renewable pioneers who have a running system for renewable energy. The plug is their "conversation piece" with the following messages: - renewable energy is effective - I've got more than I actually need - I'm generous and sharing my energy with you

How does your idea specifically help your community rapidly transition to renewables?

The Public Plug is a conversation starter to inspire more people to use renewable energy sources.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

One could easily install a Public Plug prototype on a busy street in a sunny or windy city, start a conversation with some pics on social media and see what happens.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

This idea needs some skilled designers and someone with a solid knowledge how the feed-in of excessive energy is managed in power circuits.

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post:

  • A combination of various types of renewable energy

This idea emerged from:

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Natalie Lake

Hi Anja,

This idea would create such a nice sense of community on so many levels! I love that it creates an opportunity for neighbors to interact beyond the "Hi, beautiful weather we are having" conversation. It makes these energy pioneers into energy ambassadors.

How will the public plug get the energy without the energy company being charged for the energy they are buying back from the household and without the person using the public plug being charge? Perhaps, if you did it in areas like SF where neighborhoods are fairly crowded with people and shops etc., the public plug could be right outside someone's house who is utilizing renewables.

I think it'd be interesting if pre-pilot, you could talk to some households in your area about how much excess energy they typically have in a given day, and if each household tends to have a lot perhaps the public plug could be open 24/7. Also, quick question about the plug, would someone sit with the public plug or would you have an educational plaque that accompanied the plug?

All in all, a super sharing is caring idea! I love the community it creates, thank you so much for sharing your idea!

Photo of Anja Kantowsky

Natalie, thank you for your great comments!
The main engeneering for this idea indeed would need to program the management of excess power betw. the public plug and the local energy company.

I think the design of the plug would need to be self-explanatory - no extra educational plaque. It holds the potential to become a typical local specialty.
Here in Berlin, we have the so-called "Stolpersteine" (stumbling blocks; These are memorial little blocks in the pavement to remember people who were deported during the nazi regime. There are no explanations; the concept is easy to convey and I am sure they're mentioned in many guides. I live close to many of these memorial stones and I constantly see tourists reading the names.

Photo of Natalie Lake

HI Anja,

The Stolpersteine is a really nice memorial idea. Thank you for sharing.

I really like Meena and Joanna's ideas of creating cellphone charging stations! I can totally see this becoming a reality and then an app eventually being created where people in need of a free charging station can search for the closest one.

I look forward to seeing your pilot!

Photo of DeletedUser


Love the app idea! It'd be useful especially for tourists.

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Love the conversation happening here. Anja - as your idea evolves be sure to update the text in your idea so the community can follow along! :)

Photo of Tosh Szatow

Would be awesome for people that drive electric vehicles to be able to find the nearest plug with excess energy (emergency trickle charging). Might be an excuse to pop in for a cup of tea and get to know the neighbourhood too. Cool idea

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