Energy as Currency

In January of 2018 I spent 8 Days with IDEO’s CoLab during the winter build sprint investigating the opportunity space between cryptocurrency and the production of solar energy. With the goal of bringing subsidized power to the last 1.2 Billion people who do not have access. Our primary focus was on rural communities in India and Africa. I wanted to share three points which stuck with me.

Access to Energy is a Right
Any service you use today requires access to energy. This level of access can very widely but for the most part when your plug your📱 in it charges, when you need gas for your 🚙 there is gas, and when you google for something there is a 🖥 waiting for your query. All these things and many more are ubiquitous forms of energy consumption. They are so common we assume they are always available. But there are still 1.2 billion humans like you or me who do not have equal access to energy. In fact they have almost no energy at all other then 🔥. This means that 15%, as of 2018.02.20, of our species is being left behind with out an opportunity to participate in the global society.

Ubiquitous Consumption of Energy
We have done an amazing job at distancing our selves from thinking about energy. We just plug our 📱 into the wall and it charges no questions asked. This has created a mindset in which we don’t think about where that energy comes from. But what if that phone did not charge when you plugged it into the wall?
We over consume energy. Because we are not incentivize to think about how its produced. But we have started to think about how are food is made and we do think about where out goods come from so why not energy? Think about when you purchase a iPhone X for example. Those materials need to be in mined, made into parts, assembled, shipped, charged over and over again, and then broken back down at the end of the phones life. Which comes out to around 79kg CO2e of greenhouse gas emissions for a 64GB iPhone X. (You can view the full report and breakdown here.) Now 79kg CO2e is likely a value for which you have no context but that is my point. We have no context because we do not model our consumption based off the energy used to produce the goods we consume. At least not in a direct enough manner.

Further Reading
Reinventing Fire a detailed look at the cost savings of switching form fossil fuels to renewable.
Drawdown is a collection of 100 ways to reverse climate change.
Thinking Wrong a design methodology aimed breaking us out of making the status quo.
Everyday Inventions
#244: The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency