The open-source approach to clean energy

There’s an interesting little experiment happening on the Internet, sparked by an information technology guru in Saskachewan whose sole motivation is to help the planet. Robert Rohatensky came up with the idea of an “energy tower” — a solar heat pump system for generating (baseload) electricity year round. But instead of refining the concept behind closed doors on his own, Rohatensky has decided to take an open-source approach. He’s inviting anybody who is interested to participate in the development of this approach. “The hope is that with an open philosophy that the project shows similar Rapid Application Development and success as Linux and other Open Source Software projects and provides a system that can meet future energy requirements in a sustainable manner.”

The energy tower would have a hot air cycle where the ambient air is warmer than the ground and a cold air cycle where the ambient air is colder than the ground. The approach relies on the storage of heat in the ground and convection processes that turn turbines to create electricity. You can read the details on the site.

Rohatensky doesn’t want money. He wants input. “The energy problem and the project to solve it are large and complex and require sources from many fields,” he writes on his site. “The initial design and prototype require engineering resources, but there are many portions of the project that require diverse skills from administration, project management, software and web development, marketing, financial organization or even just fresh baking.”

He welcomes anyone interested in donating time and skill — anyone who sees merit in the proposed system and wants to help. So, if you’re an engineer, techie or strategic thinker with time on your hands and a desire to help, drop Rob a line at

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