I didn't intend to imply in my last post that sustainable energy should be for the elite only. Far from it, just the way that Coca-cola is an aspirational product and everyone can take part, it's a very accessible product.
I'm a bit sad that the fall semester is over. It was my favorite semester at Masdar thus far, mainly because I loved my classes. One was Distributed Generation, which teaches some of the basic electric power engineering principles behind adding renewable technologies to a grid in a decentralized way. I've wanted to learn this stuff for so long, I'm really happy that I finally had a chance.
The other is Technology Strategy, where we studied a series of case studies about companies on the cutting edge of technology, particularly their successes and lessons learned. For example, we looked at E-Ink (technology behind Kindle e-readers) and Apple. During one of our assignments, I found this awesome paper by a couple of business professors at NYU that predict that wind and geothermal energy are on track to become less expensive than energy from fossil fuels within the near future. They make a strong case that wind and geothermal are now a better R&D investment than fossil fuel technologies.
There's a magazine article about this paper here. The original paper is here.
The reading assignments for class were fantastic, and really changed the way I think about start up companies. In particular, I found "Crossing the Chasm" to be super useful. The main premise is that there's a large gap between your first wave of customers and tapping into mainstream buyers. This transition is not smooth and companies need to fundamentally rework the way they sell their product. Although the book is tailored for "high technology" industries, I thought its explanations were particularly fitting to Global Cycle Solutions and their bike powered corn sheller and cellphone chargers for Tanzanian farmers. I was really excited to tell Dan and Jodie about this book, but a mentor from Echoing Green beat me to it. =)