Imagine you’ve just received one of those ‘requests you can’t refuse’ from your boss. You discover that you’ve been asked (okay, directed) to undertake a ‘special project’ (which could mean almost anything, right, from “Yippee!” to “Oh no, what have I got myself into?”). Here’s the assignment…
Your boss (and his boss, i.e. the Board) want to make a visible statement about the organization’s commitment to clean, renewable energy. When they say, statement, there are a few critical factors that must be taken into consideration, they say.
First and foremost, this project must involve the implementation of a new, demonstrable renewable energy generation and use capability on the headquarters site. Hmm, well that’s so vague it could mean almost anything, right? Well, there’s more. When they say “on the headquarters site”, they want the implementation to be visible to everyone. In other words, they really do want to make a statement to the world, so no hidden cow dung methane conversion plant out behind the building, out of sight. (Okay, that may be something of an ‘out there’ suggestion, but you get the idea.)
And getting back to that idea of the generating and use capability being “demonstrable”? That means that this ‘thing’, this new renewable energy installation, needs to actually produce energy, not just look good as a PR gimmick for the public. More specifically, it needs to be financially viable, “not just produce a trickle of electricity that would barely qualify as a child’s school project”, as one of the Board members had apparently said. (As if you hadn’t already worked that one out!) And that means it has to have zero (or almost zero) ongoing operating costs. In addition, speaking of children, this ‘installation’ has to be 100% safe for the inevitable school visits that the Board hinted at.
As you fleetingly ask yourself, “Why me?!”, your thoughts turn to what alternatives might be worth considering, as you read on to learn of two other key requirements: the project cannot involve any alterations to the fabric of the headquarters building. Nor will you be allowed to pursue any solutions that could require any significant construction work on the premises. Ah.
Plus (and here’s where your heart rate takes an express elevator journey straight to the 13th floor), the Board expect implementation to be complete within 60 days, with an initial report and personal presentation to them by day 90, showing them the figures for the first month’s energy production.
Oh and one final thing: your entire team are already working flat-out on a critical project, so none of them can divert from that to help you out. So you’re on your own… except for any outside help you may be able to rustle up (as long as you stick to the laughable budget you’ve been given).
Fantasizing about James Bond escape scenarios, you sag deeper into your seat, take a big swig of coffee and wonder who is on your speed dial list that can provide some clever ideas quickly, along with some rapid support to put them into action…
Once You Have Eliminated the Impossible…
- Image Source: http://sol-energy.at/
… whatever remains however improbable, as the Sherlock Holmes quote goes. You’ve spent two days researching the pros and cons of each type of renewable energy, and how each of them might lend themselves to an installation that would meet the demanding brief from the Board (oh how you’d love to give them a piece of your mind, but you’re made of sterner stuff than that – well, for the time being, although you need to see daylight soon on this problem).
Each form of renewable energy has its attractions, but in the end, you realize that you need to think more laterally. So it’s time to switch from research to some creative thinking. You ask yourself, what form of renewable energy source would be readily available right there at your headquarters? And which one(s) are available pretty consistently (no good only having it once every other Tuesday, or worse yet, on an entirely unpredictable, sporadic schedule). And which of this is available for free?
Well, when you look at it that way, the answer has to be solar energy. The sun doesn’t shine every day where you work (and it certainly wasn’t the day you got this assignment, lol), but you read somewhere that modern solar power systems can work even without direct sunlight; they just need normal daylight, and even grey skies provide enough of that, apparently.
Then you go back to that list of demands (sorry, requirements) that the Board stipulated in their instructions from hell (okay, their brief, if you want to get all technically correct about it). Oh yeah, they want something that can somehow just drift down from the heavens and be installed without any heavy construction work. Well, that rules out your idea of installing a phalanx of solar panels on the roof. (Well, it probably wouldn’t be too practical to rope up all the school children like alpine climbers when they went up there to look at all those shiny panels, either. Okay, scrap that idea.)
And since you’re not allowed to alter the fabric of the building, sticking your phalanx of solar panels on the side of the building (now, that really would make a statement!) is a non-starter, too. So now you’re left with ‘magic wand’ thinking, meaning, if you had a magic wand, what you would want would be a compact, ground-based, easy to install, solar power solution so beautiful that it makes a statement. (Ground-based, eh? How about something in the Chairman’s parking space, you mutter to nobody in particular.) And just for good measure, can this thing track the sun and be self-cleaning? I mean, after all, what good is a magic wand if you can’t get what you want?
Wait, You Mean That’s Really Possible?
Well, thanks to recent advances, it turns out you can not only keep your boss and the Board happy, you can actually delight them, with a solar power solution that:
- Is ground mounted, with minimal installation required
- Generates solar power year-round
- Is highly efficient, due to GPS-powered solar tracking and self-cleaning (yes, really)
- Comes at an affordable price and provides an outstanding return on investment
- Is technically advanced and visually stunning
So it turns out that either the Board members were onto something or they’re clairvoyant, and it really is possible to deliver this project, and look great in the process. Wow, maybe it’s time for another coffee… or even something stronger tonight at home…
Meanwhile, click here to learn more.
P.S. Enjoy your promotion when it comes.
P.P.S. We’ve cast this scenario as a workplace problem because it’s such a great setting to play with this story. However, this solution is also very well suited to public spaces and homes, and indeed is already being used in both very happily, to stunning effect.
- Solar Flower on grass: Alberto Masnovo | Shutterstock.com
- Soletank Standalone Energy Solution: Owned by the author
- Solar Power in Public Spaces: Chesky | Shutterstock.com
- Indoor Solar Charging System called Simon: Owned by the author
- Renewable Energy: studiovin | Shutterstock.com
- Advantage and Disadvantage of Solar Panels: petrmalinak | Shutterstock.com
- Solar Station in a City: asharkyu | Shutterstock.com