Comunity Supported Energy
The latest energy idea to make it to the U.S. from Europe is Community Supported Energy. Similar to Community Supported Agriculture, where local residents combine to buy the produce of local farms, Community Supported Energy is a cooperative or community owned energy project. CSE has primarily been used with wind projects, although it could be applied to other renewable sources as well. CSE provides a needed alternative between huge wind farms and individual wind turbines.
Local power is also more efficient than grid based power. A study by the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy recently concluded that Britain's nation-wide grid is so inefficient that two thirds of the energy used is lost through wasted heat or through the grid. Local systems offer the possibility of capturing the heat of the generators for other purposes.
Community Supported Energy projects, being cooperatively owned, can overcome the nimby objections to new projects. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the Government Accountability Office they retain a greater amount of income in the local area and increase the economic benefits. NREL compared the effect of large corporate wind farms owned out of area with similar projects owned locally.
The study found local income averaged $4 million more than with the central wind farms while job creation was more than twice as large in the local model.
With local economic benefits, greater energy efficiency, and lower levels of pollution, CSE is about as close to free energy as is possible, and a welcome idea that can be widely implemented without waiting for any technofix tobe perfected.