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Selling Free Energy

A Business Plan to follow, **after** inventing a Free Energy device.
  [vote for,

(I was hoping to put this Idea into a "Business Plan" subcategory, but there doesn't seem to be one.)

This Idea pre-supposes that someone has invented a "free energy" device --for an example, see link. I've seen plenty of scam websites that look rather similar to that one, so I choose to doubt that this inventor's claims are real.

However! what if they were actually true?

The problem with such a gadget is that if the inventor is smart enough to build a real thing that works as claimed, then the inventor should also be smart enough to go into the power-selling business.

See, most of these United States have a requirement that if a homeowner can generate more electricity than they use, then the Public Electric Utility must buy the extra, and add it to the total that is available for everyone on the Electric Grid.

So, all the inventor need do is build enough of those gadgets in his own home to have some extra electricity to sell. This provides income to make more gadgets to sell to the neighbors, who can be convinced to buy simply by showing them the (now "negative") electric bill, and the cheques from the electric company.

Or, maybe rent them to a SINGLE neighbor for less than that neighbor normally pays to the electric company. The trick here is to provide the neighbor with enough of the gadgets to supply all the electricity he needs, plus enough extra so that the electric company has to buy the excess, and the amount the electric company pays will equal the amount of the rent. (Net effect: neighbor pays nothing for power.)

Now the inventor has two incomes to build more gadgets. Simply repeat previous paragraph for the next neighbor, then the next...and watch the total income grow. Not to mention, pretty soon word-of-mouth (not testimonials on the inventor's own website) will lead to all the capital needed to mass-produce the gadget --and all the sales-demand for it that the inventor could wish for.

However, like I wrote above, since the inventor linked below isn't following any such Business Plan, I choose to doubt that his gadget actually works as claimed.

Vernon, Mar 06 2012

(?) The Johnson Motor http://www.johnsonmotor.org/indexMb.php
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, Mar 06 2012]

more on the Johnson motor http://www.rexresea...ohnson/1johnson.htm
[simonj, Mar 07 2012]

Solar Power is not free, but ... http://hardware.sla...rs-over-solar-power
Utility resistance to home-produced electricity is growing. [Vernon, Apr 19 2015]


       //I choose to doubt that this inventor's claims are real. However! what if they were actually true?//   

       There's a film to be made about a naive Nigerian oil executive who really, truly does want to transfer several million dollars to an overseas bank account.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 06 2012

       Scaleability might be a problem.   

       [MaxwelBuchanan] A certain party has expressed interest in purchasing your rights to that idea. If you don't mind sending along a few banking details so we can arrange the transfer of funds?
mouseposture, Mar 06 2012

       does that Johnson motor work? looks like he really was grated patents for it
simonj, Mar 07 2012

       //most of these United States...//   

       "most of These united states..." surely.
FlyingToaster, Mar 07 2012

       I believe there's a limit on the 'energy buy-back' programs. I don't know much about it, but there's a guy in my town with two small wind turbines and a shit-ton of solar cells on his roof. Last summer he was 'down the store' laughing about how MCP wouldn't pay him for all of his surplus on super-sunny days.   

       I'll do a little reading and see what's up. Stay tuned.
Alterother, Mar 07 2012

       From Wikipedia:   

       "Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities (such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells) or V2G electric vehicles. "Net", in this context, is used in the sense of meaning "what remains after deductions" — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate."   

       This is similar to the explanation I found on Maine Central Power's website, but easier to understand. Basically, I think they're only required to 'buy back' as much power as they've sold to you.
Alterother, Mar 07 2012

       Different US States have different laws, regarding buy-backs. I think that in California (they've had lots of "rolling blackouts" in recent years due to lack of enough power), you can get paid by the power company if your net consumption goes negative.   

       The main objection, not really unreasonable on the part of the power companies, is that, if the homeowner simply causes the meter to run backward, the per-kilowatt buyback rate is the same (retail, not wholesale!) rate as the per-kilowatt sales rate.   

       The commonest solution that I'm aware of is, the homeowner needs to get two meters, one hooked up to the homeowner's personal power source. Then different cost rates can be used, and if the net power usage is negative, the power company doesn't pay more per kilowatt than it pays to generate electricity in the big power plants.   

       I suspect Maine is allowing the buyback rate to be the same as the sales rate **down to** the point where net usage is zero. Since the average homeowner doesn't want the extra expense of installing a second meter, that would be the reason to not allow the electric bill to go negative.   

       I specified "United States" in the main text because I don't know anything about such laws in other countries.   

       Note that a lot of local and small power sources can be an answer to various scalability and distribution problems. Once such problem, here in the USA, is the fact that lots and lots of wind power could be generated in places that are kind-of far from the main electric power-grid lines. That is, scalability is basically solved for wind-power (by mass production of turbines), but distribution problems remain.
Vernon, Mar 07 2012

       //There's a film to be made about a naive Nigerian oil executive who really, truly does want to transfer several million dollars to an overseas bank account// - this was done in an episode of "Flight of the Conchords". It's probably been youtubed, but I can't access that site from here.
hippo, Mar 07 2012

       When the government here briefly introduced a scheme where the power utility was compelled to purchase your excess power at a higher price per unit than they charged, I immediately visualized a 3cm thick extension lead from my neighbour's place into my solar power generator. (And it was glowing cherry red from all the juice going out of my neighbour's place at $0.35 and into the power company's system at $0.53).   

       I resisted the temptation to rort the system but I bet not everybody did.
AusCan531, Mar 07 2012

       //does that Johnson motor work?//   

       Well, let's see. Are you and every other human being on the planet enjoying life in a post-scarcity world where unlimited clean energy is available to everyone at essentially no cost? If so, then it works.
ytk, Mar 07 2012

       Does the invention work?
As UnaBubba would undoubtedly have said, "In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics".
There are already devices for generating "free" energy - wind turbines and solar cells. However, their efficiency is currently such that its has been calculated in the UK that a small wind turbine actually costs money rather than making it. I believe the same is true for photovoltaic cells (though am sure this will be cracked soon).
goff, Mar 07 2012

       It's gotta work. It's magnet layout oddly resembles Stonehenge, don't ya know?
RayfordSteele, Mar 07 2012

       I think most states allow (require) buyback, but many do it at the avoided cost rate. That is, you don't pay if you can drive the meter to zero, but the moment you drive the meter negative, you only get paid the wholesale rate for the surplus. I know for certain that is how New York is set up, not sure about others.
MechE, Mar 07 2012

       I am skeptical any US homeowner is deriving income from generated power sold back to the power company. I think you can drive your bill to 0 and that is it. I keep an eye out for such things and during my years in SoCal I never once encountered a home grown energy generating scheme operated for profit. All energy was always used on site.   

       I have considered what would happen if Mom & Pop really could generate and easily sell electricity into the grid. I think that rather than solar there would be a lot of generators out in the boondocks burning agricultural waste, brush and trash in the dark of night to conceal the thick black smoke plume.   

       Thinking about the proposed eccentric genius who has a free energy device but cannot be bothered with the practicalities of developing and marketing it, I like the idea of identifying such by locating residences that are "off the grid" and then figuring out where they are getting electricity from. And then - what are they using it for?   

       If used as a scifi premise, one could start with an effort as described carried out by drug enforcement, looking for residences being used to grow marijuana. The residential MJ farms are already surreal in a Silent Running type way, and the aerial surveillance tehcnology used to identify them is also plenty cool. Your opening 15 minutes of show is all taken care of with this.
bungston, Mar 07 2012

       [Bung] I know it has been done in NY, but the cost justification just isn't there. Since the return drops from retail to wholesale at breakeven, the payback period on installations larger than break-even is excessive (in addition, what subsidies exist tend to cut off at or below that point). Also, with regard to isolated generators, I think New York only has the buyback requirement on clean sources (wind and solar).   

       That being said, there just aren't that many residential installations in the US yet. Due to the high initial capital costs, installations tend to occur at industrial sites, where they still need more than they can generate locally.   

       Since panel cost is dropping below one dollar per watt, if someone can reduce the installation cost (plug and play roof tiles or the like) to get the capital requirements down, I think you will start to see people deriving a small income from solar generation.   

       Of course there are significant limits on the number of people who can do so, owing to the cyclical nature of solar versus demand. This will, at some point, require the same sort of time based rates currently applied to demand.   

       However, given that peak solar generation and peak air-conditioning requirements tend to coincide, it will be some time before we reach this limit.
MechE, Mar 07 2012

       [ytk], it is common for inventors to claim that various Vested Interests are suppressing their inventions. The primary purpose of this Idea and Business Plan is to take advantage of certain laws, such that the inventor can make an end-run around the typical suppression effort by some Vested Interest.   

       [bungston], energy is a bit like money, in that "expenditures tend to rise to meet income". The more you have available, the more you tend to use. And at the rate that new electric-powered gadgets keep coming on the market, it remains to be seen whether or not any small net-generator-of-energy can keep doing it in the long run. But there can always be some few who manage to make more than they use.
Vernon, Mar 07 2012

       If anyone wants to read some really wild claims about a 'free energy' device, look up 'ethereal generator' or the 'Joe Motor'. It's a nested arrangement of stainless steel cylinders filled with distilled water that is purported to "draw power from the latent energy of the universe." Supposedly it will power an ICE with no fuel line or battery connected simply by bolting it to the alternator. The more you read, the funnier it gets.
Alterother, Mar 07 2012

       //it is common for inventors to claim that various Vested Interests are suppressing their inventions//   

       Never trust anyone in a vest.   

       Seriously, though, what's the difference between truly, honestly believing that one's obviously thermodynamically unsound (and often laughably implemented) invention would eliminate the entire world's dependence on limited energy but for the machinations of the evil powers that be, and paranoid schizophrenia?
ytk, Mar 08 2012

       [ytk], the purpose of this Idea includes not-caring-one-whit about such details. If the inventor has a genuine gadget, then this Business Plan should allow the inventor to succeed in spite of Vested Interests. Do you have any reason to fault this Business Plan?
Vernon, Mar 08 2012

       Paranoid schizophrenia is a clearly defined mental disorder with striking similarities to both epilepsy and my own affliction, bi-polar disorder. Claiming you could solve the world's energy woes if it weren't for the men in black coats sent by Big Oil is at best just a bid for attention in an identity-squashing world, at worst a self-imposed delusion that qualifies as a clinical condition but is hardly physiological.
Alterother, Mar 08 2012

       Post-scarcity is economic or social rather than technological. It could be achieved, for example, by making it legal to give away plutonium for free on street corners, but that might have a bit of a downside. Opinions about what that downside might be depend on one's politics.
nineteenthly, Mar 08 2012

       / Do you have any reason to fault this Business Plan?/   

       The fault is that homeowners cannot derive profit from selling extra energy they generate.   

       The place to go is somewhere that is already in the habit of generating energy for itself - perhaps a remote location using diesel generators or somewhere that has already installed solar to partially meet their own energy needs. These folks would have the infrastructure set up, and adding on a free energy device should be no more cumbersome than adding a few more panels.
bungston, Mar 08 2012

       [bungston], yes, they can, but likely it will depend on just where they live.
Vernon, Mar 08 2012

       //As UnaBubba would undoubtedly have said..   

       Where is he?
simonj, Mar 14 2012

       He evaporated.   

       // residential MJ farms are already surreal in a Silent Running type way //   

       You flatter me, sir.
Alterother, Mar 14 2012


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