Our mission is to expand the role of clean energy by giving the world a simple, but powerful tool. Clean energy is not a single thing. It is at least five different sources of energy, but it also includes new technologies that aren’t a source of energy, like cogeneration and hydrogen. More importantly, it includes more efficient use of energy which involves a wide variety of new technologies.
Lots of people are interested in clean energy, but very few people know that much about it yet. For decades it was the province of hippies and mad scientists. The conventional energy experts derided it. I’ll post another blog later about what it was like getting a Ph.D. in Engineering at Stanford during the 1980’s with a career goal of pushing clean energy forward. Fortunately, that was when there was a cogeneration mini-boom happening.
Suddenly, everyone is interested. Silicon Valley wants to apply the lessons of the Internet boom to it. Wall Street wants to apply the lessons of the finance boom to it. There are a lot of valuable lessons there, but there is also some core science, technology, and system engineering issues. HOMER Energy’s goal is to make those issues accessible to the widest possible audience. There is a huge need to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to new clean energy technologies.
The core technology behind HOMER Energy is the HOMER software that I developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory over the last 15 years. NREL is not a software development organization. It is full of those mad scientists I mentioned earlier. They really aren’t that mad, but the research department at Exxon would think that many of them are a little kooky. The point is that they are scientists that love the details that are necessary to push science forward. Even though scientists and engineers love the details those same details get in the way of making clean energy accessible to a wide audience. At NREL HOMER had to make a lot of compromises on the detail versus simplicity spectrum.
Going forward, HOMER Energy, LLC. will be the home of HOMER. This gives us the flexibility to base HOMER 3.0 on a simple platform that will be accessible by anyone that can use a computer. It will answer the basic questions. It is meant as a stepping stone to the world of clean energy. The simple platform will also be a stepping stone to a suite of more sophisticated modules for more detailed analysis. The scientists and engineers will like those modules better. We’ll even customize it for people with special needs. This layered approach will reduce the amount of time and money that is being wasted on detailed analysis of concepts that are flawed at a fundamental level. Perhaps we can have a whole section of this blog dedicated to screwball ideas that violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
HOMER will also be a stepping stone to a community of people engaged in clean energy. The HOMER user community is already 30,000 strong and represented all over the globe. Through HOMER people will have access to all of that global expertise. We will be putting on trainings throughout the world. We will be connecting people to suppliers of equipment and services, such as engineering and design, purchasing and installation, operation and maintenance, and financing and insurance. As of March 2009, we’re only just beginning but we want to hear from you, our users about what you need.