Methods for saving energy ranged from simple to eclectic at the Charlotte County Economic Development Office’s third Annual Energy Options Conference Wednesday.
Participants shared unique ways of harnessing energy while learning about a program for fostering new ideas for saving energy.
Charlotte County has raised the thermostats in its buildings and installed sensors to turn off lights when people leave offices. This has resulted in significant savings.
But how about harnessing ocean energy to power offices and buildings? Dr. Stephen Wood with the Florida Institute of Technology is working on ways to do just that.
“Why is it that everyone is focusing on wind power and solar power when right here off the coast we have a tremendous amount of power,” he said. “When you think of the density of water versus the density of air you can have a much, much smaller propeller in the water to get the equivalent of a gigantic propeller in the air.”
Wood and his students have developed two prototypes they’re testing right now.
If ocean waves are abundant, so is sunshine in Florida. Regenesis Power has installed solar arrays around the state including at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Florida governor’s mansion.
But, Regenesis Vice President Dell Jones is touting a solar plan he says can create lots of jobs, reduce the average family’s electric bill by 20 percent and lead to a greener Florida. Jones said this can be done by paying the company $34.95 a month to install and maintain a solar water heater.
“If you give it to the electric utility – typically half of everyone’s electric bill is fuel. And what do you with fuel? You burn it. So literally we take what otherwise would have been given to the electric utility who will spend it on fuel and literally burn it, we keep that money in the local businesses and the local economy,” he said.
A strategy still in the development stage for increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles was also on the agenda. Darryl Keyes is the CEO of UK-based DieselMist Corporation. Its idea is to run vehicles off a mix of diesel and propane. Keyes said this kind of innovation is the path to the future.
“I think all new technologies gives sort of various opportunities. There are obstacles to overcome. And, I think if we think like we always did then we never progress. So, I think the key is to embrace these new technologies these new ideas, new patterns and harness them for mass market production,” he said.
And, Charlotte County is looking for more new ideas. It’s doing that through its Innovation2IndustryFlorida program. Inventors and others are invited to submit proposals for new, green technology to the county’s Economic Development Office between now and the end of the year.
Three winners will be announced in March. They will receive a cash prize plus free rent and maintenance on office space in Charlotte County for two years. The county’s Sharon Fumei said everybody wins.
“We’re in economic development. We want to bring business to this county. We want jobs for the people here. We want growth for the people here. This is our way of helping foster those new entrepreneurs out there,” she said.
Details about the Innovation2Industry contest are available at www.i2ifl.com.
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 14:08
Charlotte County Hosts Energy Options ConferenceWritten by Valerie Alker