BY: DAN BOIVIN
We’ve all heard it before, a new technology comes along and promises to shift the balance of power in the world of energy, disrupting the “business as usual practices” we are all too familiar with. But then, more often than not, the giant coal, oil, gas and nuclear companies, with their obscene profits and millions of dollars in government subsidies, find ways to stop this from happening. The new technology may be indirectly purchased through shell companies and taken off the market, or severely hindered in some other way that prevents it from living up to its expectations.
Over the last few decades there have been several international climate summits where world leaders have come together to address global climate issues, and they all have one thing in common. As a recent essay from the Center For Global Development points out, they’ve “made it obvious the world’s biggest emitters will not make binding commitments to cut emissions soon enough to avert catastrophe.”
Catastrophe that 97% of the world’s climate scientists agree we are already beginning to see and will become far worse in the decades to come.
With the financial power to write legislation, injecting millions of dollars back into their lobbying efforts and buying up enough lawmakers to exploit the world as they see fit, the dirty fossil fuel and nuclear industries have effectively convinced us that they have all of the power, and we have none.
Veteran online activist and co-founder of several very successful, socially charged organizations, Jeremy Heimans, shows in a recent talk that the balance of power is shifting. Through the new power of the Internet and social technology, we have an unprecedented ability to distribute information, organize and mobilize each other to take action on the things that matter most. By using these tools, we do have the power to bring an end to the pollution and environmental destruction that the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries have been reaping on this planet for the past century. It’s just a matter of actually using that power, and one of the best ways to do that is through crowdfunding amazing companies, products and ideas.
This is a man trying to tip the scale of power towards the people: founder of Crowd Energy, Todd Janca.
Todd is an avid environmentalist, diver, and deep diving manned submersible pilot. He is an engineer with a number of existing patents for sub-sea structures and sub-sea power generation, and is the inventor of the Ocean Energy Turbine™.
Todd has spent the last 8 years self-funding the development of this technology while working with specialists in engineering, oceanography, marine ecology and conservation, electrical engineering, fabrication, and design to refine the design and push the capabilities of the Ocean Energy Turbine™.
As far as renewable technologies go, this turbine is expected to contribute to the end of fossil fuel dependency. By utilizing the 24/7 and all year power of the oceans’ currents this technology produces more consistent energy than wind and solar, and more importantly, without taking up the valuable land that wind and solar require.
Attempting to generate energy from the ocean is not new. There have been similar projects such as Scottish Power off the coast of Scotland and Ocean Renewable Power off the coast of Maine, but the high torque capability of the Ocean Energy Turbine™ has already been tested and proven on small-scale production models to exceed the efficiency of anything currently in existence. This has resulted in a number of patents that will place Crowd Energy at the forefront of Ocean Energy production.
Now they’ve recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to take it to the next level: full, utility-scale production, final testing, and selling clean, renewable energy back to the grid.
Full disclosure: through years of networking, I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with some amazing people and have been given the opportunity to volunteer on this campaign, which has enabled me to get an exclusive interview with the founder of Crowd Energy and inventor of the Ocean Energy Turbine™, Todd Janca.
Crowd Energy claims that the Ocean Energy Turbine™ will be able to completely replace fossil fuels, but some say otherwise. U.S. Department of Energy’s marine and hydrokinetic energy researcher, Andrea Copping, told Live Science that it’s a promising idea, but these will only be capable of providing regional solutions and not able to cover the grid. Is it actually viable for this technology to provide more than just regional solutions for the world’s energy needs?
The majority of the population is within coastal regions, so this is where the energy will help the most. When energy is distributed into the national power grid, it means the energy that would have been sent to a certain location, may no longer need to be sent there, giving it the ability to be sent somewhere else. For example, if a large solar plant was providing Tampa, Florida with energy, and our turbines could manage the grid load for Tampa, the solar energy could be directed to somewhere else on the grid that needs energy. When we say “the end of fossil fuel dependency,” we are not claiming to be the sole solution for a complete renewable transition. We believe that wind, solar, and ocean energy will aid in going fossil-free. The reason for our positioning is this reality: when you have a technology like the Ocean Energy Turbine™, you begin to solve the energy issue with consistency. Solar and wind alone are not reliable sources of consistent energy, they have peak times, the sun goes down, etc. The Ocean Energy Turbine™ collects energy from the ocean’s currents 24/7/365, which is the only viable rival to coal-fired power plants. So until you can replace coal-fired energy, which is 24/7, you can’t make fossil fuels obsolete. At least not until energy storage technology gets better.
Though Crowd Energy has chosen to forgo more traditional funding routes, and instead launch a crowdfunding campaign for this next stage in their development, many skeptics out there, particularly on social media, say this will never get off the ground. Could you address the reasoning behind your decision to crowdfund this technology?
One of the main goals of Crowd Energy is to give people their power back. We have turned down extremely large amounts of money from venture capitalists and corporate investors already, because we aren’t interested in the “fast route” or the “easy way.” We believe that enabling society with more control of their power is the next step to a better world and more stable economy, so the economic and local impacts of Crowd Energy’s business model aim to benefit as many people as possible. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We don’t want to get involved with conflicts of interest for the sake of investors that don’t want to give back to the average person, so we are building a business model to replace the broken infrastructure, not take part in it.
There are a lot of people with concerns about both the environmental impacts of the turbines on the surrounding marine ecology, including the effects of the desalination process. Will these turbines create more harm than benefit, such as dangerously raising the salt content in the surrounding water?
Ocean technology is not new. Multi-billion dollar industries have succeeded in making eco-safe materials and composites, and it is with these safe materials that we’ve constructed every part of the Ocean Energy Turbine™. Crowd Energy has approached all stages of this project from a standpoint of ‘Do No Harm’, so every effort has been made to ensure the protection of the environment, while efficiently producing large-scale energy. Three key safety features of the Ocean Energy Turbine™ are its slow rotational speed, allowing marine life to swim safely through, magnetically shielded generator and transmission lines to protect the environment from any electromagnetic radiation, and harmonic dampening allowing the turbines to run near silent. In regards to concerns about desalination, sea salt is actually a commodity, so it will be collected and distributed as such.
What are the limitations of the Ocean Energy Turbine™, and what does Crowd Energy see as the biggest obstacles to widespread implementation of this going forward?
Our biggest obstacle is educating the general population to understand that this is a proven technology. We have the experience, the technology, and the expertise to make this vision a reality. It’s all there. Once people understand that real solutions have already been built, and all that needs to be done is to support them, then we will start to see widespread implementation.
What are the next steps for Crowd Energy? Where do you see yourselves in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years from now?
1 year – We will have our crowd funding with a Return On Investment platform setup and running, giving people returns on their investments. Our utility-scale turbines will be in production, and we will be providing clean, renewable energy back to the grid for millions of people.
5 years – We will be a leader in renewable energy because the limitations that hold similar companies in this space back will not apply to our business model.
10 years – We will be supplying a majority of countries around the world with potable water and clean energy.
So where does this leave us right now?
According to many international regulatory bodies, scientists, governments and even militaries, we know that the pollution driving climate change represents the single most dangerous threat to stability around the world. It is going to continue to produce more superstorms, more droughts, more food and water shortages, more melting of the ice caps and glaciers fueling rising sea levels and leaving millions of people displaced with nowhere to go. These conditions will cause immeasurable conflicts and leave a thick residue of chaos.
Regardless of whether you are ignorant to the reality of climate change, we are irreparably damaging our world, and know that the unsustainable business practices of the past cannot continue into the future. It is beyond reprehensible to continue to allow unethical industries, and corrupt, complacent governments, to destroy the ecosystems that support all life on this planet for personal gain.
If we as individuals, as citizens of a global family, are also not willing to do what is necessary to turn the tide and limit these otherwise catastrophic events, then that destruction will be on all of our hands, and future generations will look back on us in utter shame. They will know that we had the technology and the ability to change, but we chose not to.
Ending the dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear energy is as simple as making them obsolete. By choosing to directly support their replacements – companies like Crowd Energy or other green initiatives that are pioneering new, sustainable industries – we can all play a part in circumventing the business as usual practices we can no longer afford to maintain.
Which decision will you make? Remember: choosing to remain neutral is still a tacit choice.