Archive for the ‘3.8 Conclusion’ Category

3.8.2 Conclusion

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

My Perspective
After consciously avoiding discussion with interested parties form the energy industry I have arrived at a result that has not evolved from a business perspective, which indeed was the intention. I would be ignorant to say that the industry would not have given valuable input, but as they are responsible for a large and complex infrastructure I believe this was the right choice for my perspective.

Structural Strain
Using the blog medium as my main communication channel has had its advantages, but also challenges. The result is presented in a style that reflects similar small communities. This exploits the format well and enforces the strength of the evidence.  As a research tool it has two main advantages, there is a short distance to a lot of readers and the addition of active and dynamic content can enrich a text. As a primary source for official documentation of the process it has proved bit more challenging as the tradition of documenting a diploma is in a linear fashion. Instead of embracing the format fully in the documentation I have reworked the structure so it is possibly more similar to a traditional text to navigate. This is not optimal and the structure is therefore also presented in this book.

Challenged preconceptions
Through the scenario presented at untappedenergy.org I have explored some of the design opportunities found during the research. untappedenergy.org as well as behind.untappedenergy.org are entry points to a discourse on how we designers, as well as consumers, can be challenged to reshape our preconceptions of energy in our homes. The combined result and documentation of this diploma scratches the surface of a mostly unexplored field of design that has a bright future.

3.8.1 Discussion

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Reflecting on the initial goals of the diploma I will try to make an overview of where I did end up after these 20 weeks.

The research found that current discourse in this field is about awareness enabled by automatic collection of meter data and visualise them in various contexts. My contribution to the discourse is an argument for the consumers’ participation in energy production. Starting beyond consumption awareness is also a possible change in our behaviour, the more participation and ownership of our electricity, the more conscious we become to how and where it is used[1]. If a large scale movement would develop in this paradigm it could potentially influence politics and traditional hierarchical structures in the energy business.

Abstract

“The diploma will research and explore design opportunities related to renewable energy in the context of the family home. Concepts related to local production and/or conservation of energy will be investigated.”

The design opportunities found where largely explored while working on the scenario blog. The family aspect has been downplayed in the sense that not all age groups where designed for, but the context of the concepts are still placed within the family home. The intention of including the word “family” was to make sure the result is in a believable context from a family perspective, rather than a designer perspective or business perspective.

Initially I thought my concepts and end results would be more specific problem solving products or services designed as experience prototypes or similar artefacts. The research and ideas emerging from that work indicated that it was not the actual tools to produce or reduce that where the important design opportunities. I think the holistic approach made sense this time, where the key insights made room for future design work as suggested in the evidences.

Questions

What design opportunities lies in promoting a decentralized way of thinking about energy?

The biggest design opportunities lies in not thinking from the same perspective as the energy companies. Usually they are built to fit the current paradigm and does not see the monetary gain in the smart grid outside of making their current operations more efficient and by that more valuable. The decentralizes thinking are much more friendly to the end consumer. If a free exchange of energy is made available to the public, much like how internet has made file sharing available, there is a whole new area where products and services could be designed. This decentralized infrastructure is also a place where a lot of new jobs could be created.

We need some sort of “tap” that could deliver the sun or the wind right in our kitchen when we need it.

The “tap” suggested in the title has manifested itself, maybe a bit by chance,  in the new outlined situation. Energy produced by you could be specifically applied in an appliance. This is achieved by giving full control over any amount energy produced by a private person, by utilising the grid as a battery where the amount “uploaded” can be “downloaded” or tapped at will.

Ambitions

The Diploma will aim to explore and design concepts and ideas that aim to challenge existing preconceptions of current energy production/conservation and try to give insights into where this will go in the near future.

The untappedEnergy.org blog is an attempt to make an argument to challenge existing preconceptions and also a suggestion into where it might go in the future.

References in this post
  1. Darby, S. (2006). THE EFFECTIVENESS OF FEEDBACK ON. Oxford: University Of Oxford [*]

3.8.3 Road map

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Opportunities
There are a lot of design opportunities in this field of work. Currently the energy metering services like the Wattson, are hot properties. Just beyond that there are even greater opportunities. When the broader public get easy access to produce parts of their own electricity, and technology and regulation opens the energy market for a distributed energy paradigm a whole new segment of products and services for energy sharing needs be developed.

Shaping a future
For designers today there is a big opportunity to shape a phenomenon, the smart grid, to something as important as the internet. A combination of information sharing through the web and energy sharing through the smart grid has huge implications for societies[1]and need responsible designers to design responsible and prosperouos services. Service, Interaction and Product designers need to join forces and through a combined effort develop these systems to the backbone of the coming centuries.

References in this post
  1. Rifkin, J. (2002, December 23). The Office of Jermey Rifkin. Retrieved January 14, 2009, from Hydrogen Economy: http://www.foet.org/global/HE/The%20Nation%20-%20December%2023%202002.pdf [*]