This week in our Open Source for the Common Good course, we are focusing on the development of OSD for wind energy, most specifically for Danish turbines. In the 1973 Oil Crisis, the Danish government was forced to invest in either nuclear or renewable energy in order to counteract the oil shortage. Collaboration from college students, activists, and professors prompted the quick development of wind energy as a substitute for potentially harmful nuclear energy. A plausible solution seemed to point towards wind turbines. Over time, and through open source communication, wind turbines evolved from one to two to three blades. Research suggested that the third blade could significantly increase efficiency and that the wind turbines now only needed 12 m/s of wind to generate a substantial amount of sustainable energy. Today, through collaborative study, wind turbines now only need 4 m/s of wind to operate as a result of increasing the size of each blade to 80 meters in diameter. The new triple bladed wind turbine has been named the Danish Concept. As a result of OSD, renewable wind energy has become a viable replacement to other carbon emitting methods for obtaining energy.
OSD provides an incredible solution for developing sustainable energy, however, there have been instances of IP within the energy sector that have prevented such rapid invention and production as seen above. Jesús Alonso, the R&D Director at Isofoton, has acquired many IP rights in an effort to remain on top of the solar energy industry. Isofoton is a world leader in photovoltaic and thermal solar energy technologies and they have commercial business in over 60 countries. Alonso and Isofoton aim to own and create only IP in an effort to retain their leading status in the market of solar energy. “For Isofoton, the basic goal is that the company should as far as possible generate and own all IP as a result of its internal research and development activities, so as to be independent from the competition in generating new technology and ahead of competition in the applications market.” (WIPO) Although this goal for Isofoton might prove beneficial for its investors and clients since they would essentially rule the market for renewable solar energy, it is extremely detrimental for the rest of the world. Due to their significant resource and research capabilities, they have an incredible upper hand in development and production. However, if they were to instead incorporate open source into their strategy, the development of new and more efficient renewable solar energy technologies could occur at a much faster rate.
The Earth’s climate is being destroyed by the release of 30 billion tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere annually. A possible solution to such a huge problem is a shift to renewable solar and wind energy since the harnessing of both types of energy emits 0 carbon. Humans must work together to develop renewable technologies on a worldwide scale as quickly as possible in an effort to counteract our carbon release. In order to do so, companies like Isofoton must put an end to their commercial greed and sacrifice potential profit to help counteract global warming and the destruction of our planet.