The Greenstar Opportunity
by Jock Gill, Michael North
The Next Economy
Centralized, carbon-based energy has brought great economic benefits to the developed world. But it has not reached nearly 35% of the world's population -- two billion people in over 600,000 villages. And it has exacted a punishing cost on the planetary environment.
Much of the developing world will never be reached by large, centralized electrical generating plants; there is not enough capital or copper cable to extend our 20th century power system to create universal access to electricity. And the biosphere could not withstand a worldwide hydrocarbon assault on the scale now seen in the developed countries.
So bringing those two billion people into the 21st century economy requires new thinking: decentralized, local power generation from clean, renewable sources. At Greenstar, we recognize the great good this will bring, to individuals, families and communities, to health, employment, education and to building peace. We also see a highly profitable business opportunity, growing the worldwide energy market by 50%.
This will take vision, a commitment to listening carefully to the needs of local people, and sound business sense. These are the core principles of Greenstar.
Energy and Information Network Parallels
We are now capable of delivering the power of a mainframe computer to everyone, but this would not have been possible if we had held to our vision of the computer as a refrigerator-sized box requiring full-time attendants and costing millions of dollars. Instead, we developed microcomputers, now portable and more powerful than early mainframes, and connected them to form a distributed intelligence and electronic commerce capability over an inexpensive global network.
Today's electric generating plants are the equivalent of yesterday's mainframe computers. They're costly to build and fuel, and the power they generate has to be expensive. So the conventional power company sees no business incentive to serve those two billion people who cannot afford access to a mainframe-like power system.
Solar Energy Plus
By moving toward sun-powered photovoltaics that generate power locally, when and where it is needed, we can provide these potential customers with the electrical equivalent of microcomputers, laptops and palmtops. As a first step, we envision an all-wireless solution, using satellite and solar cell technologies, which could provide even a small, isolated village with benefits such as:
telemedicine, distance learning
ultraviolet water purification
internet: email, research
ecommerce; direct sales
multilingual public Web access
video theater for public education
wellness and health management
battery charging station
greenhouse, drip irrigation, pumps
pest control, light trapping
coffee, fruit drying
grain drying & storage; rice husking
motorized sewing machine
backpack crop spraying
Our team has on-the-ground experience in deploying advanced solar energy systems around the world, with partners in over 90 countries.
Generating electricity with centralized fossil fuel plants, distributed over large distances by copper wires, is yesterday. Today, we move toward a light electrical generation paradigm with few moving parts, scaled to local distribution, using clean renewable energy, providing ubiquitous green electrons to empower people. Generating an economic renaissance, and new markets, in the developing world.