Zenmanenergy. Great brand name. It evokes a person at peace with his goals and willing to answer questions such as “Is it fair to say that you are effectively ‘giving the tech away’ once it’s up and running?” with a simple “Yes.” Steve Nelson rounded and runs Zenman. He admits the ideas are not that new. But he is dedicated to reducing the cost, sharing the plans, and starting an open source movement to help the solution scale and evolve fast. All he wants is a salary. The endeavor seems to run on donations for now. I hope that Google, Microsoft, et al. take note as they did with Khan Academy and fund Mr. Nelson. Assuming his plan is somewhat viable, his humility and approach to improving the offering make him another example of the open source ethic. As he explains:
I plan to give away the construction plans, videos, pictures, calculations, software for free. On top of that, if I can collect enough donations I want to help others get started by providing grants to build small solar power plants. That’s how this will really take off. I cannot create enough solar power plants to make a difference, but could 10,000 people? How about a million?
Of course the secondary benefit to helping others get started is I expect they will improve the design. This style of “open source” is how much of the software that runs the internet works. I’m mimicking that model as best I can.
And for those wondering about the legal aspects, he seems smart enough to use the IP system to control the process a la Creative Commons. That is establish rights and then the system for open use.