With the proliferation of wind and solar power arrays around the globe, the technology for harnessing the earth’s power and converting it into energy has never been more affordable or easier to obtain. The challenge has now become converting the direct current generated by such arrays into usable energy for homes and businesses.
That “usable energy” comes in the form of alternating current and that, in turn, takes quite a bit of effort at present to create out of direct current sources. Some of what’s involved includes complex power grids, conversion tools, and external power sources, often from fossil or nuclear fuels.
To combat and replace that elaborate conversion process, Google has partnered with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers to sponsor the “Littlebox Challenge.” The contest promises a $1 million prize to any participant who can come up with an efficient conversion mechanism that is no larger than a laptop. The task is not an easy one, as indicated by the size of the prize and the fact that even the world’s most advanced engineers haven’t yet solved the problem.
But should an inventor make the breakthrough and come up with a laptop-sized power converter? Well, it would change the green energy game completely. It would revolutionize where and how installations can be set up, making them almost universally implementable, and could potentially bring easy, affordable power to even the most remote parts of the globe.
The host website of the competition encourages contestants to “think shrink” and lists among the qualifications a “healthy disregard for the perceived limits of engineering.” If you have those qualities and ambitions of being green energy’s superhero, there are a whole lot of people looking for you.