= aims to directly contribute to a just transition towards climate change mitigation by developing a horizontal technology transfer model based on Open Source Co-operative Innovation
URL = http://www.onawi.org
Jane Dennet Thorpe and Javier Ruiz:
"Onawi is a new non-profit organisation that aims to directly contribute to a just transition towards climate change mitigation by developing a horizontal technology transfer model based on Open Source Co-operative Innovation.
Onawi is creating a freely accessible library of renewable energy technologies. To do this we will compile existing and available designs and associated documentation.
Our vision is that this library will form the basis for a community for co-operative technology development following an Open Source Innovation model. The main focus for development will be generic -- as in generic medicines -- medium size wind turbine designs with certification.
Onawi will foster and engage in collaboration projects of technology transfer involving industrial and community partners."
Climate change, global justice and technology transfer
The problem: Climate change, global justice and technology transfer
It is now widely agreed that if we are to slow down climate change we need a complete global transformation from our existing carbon based technologies and economy. Despite the financial crisis, there are substantial sums being earmarked to bring about the 'greening' of many of the world's economies. However, this transition is not happening as fast as is necessary. One of the key stumbling blocks is the conflict over technology transfer.
Developing countries see the transition to clean technologies as a historical opportunity for the creation of local industry and economic development. This means that in international climate negotiations, developing countries strongly resist agreeing to lower their emissions levels unless they are given access to relevant technologies.
In contrast, developed countries are concerned about losing their economic advantage and seek to avoid unrestricted access and copying of the technologies developed by their companies at high cost. They would prefer to limit global emissions of climate changing gases by selling finished products that help rebuild or maintain their own industrial capacity.
Within countries, the widespread introduction of new clean technologies – low carbon or otherwise -- can bring social tensions as it disrupts existing relations. In particular, communities that currently base their livelihood on sunset technologies, such as oil workers, and those living near renewable resources could suffer disproportionally in the process.
ONAWI believes that the clean transition demanded by global warming must be a just transition in order to happen. This means reducing the differences between rich and poor countries by promoting the development of indigenous capacities in poorer countries. It also involves enabling communities to take control of their own paths to development and increased wellbeing rather than imposing preconceived models.
In order to achieve a just transition we need a model of technology transfer where basic knowledge is shared and can be further developed and transformed for local needs. This is called horizontal technology transfer.
In addition to these ethical and practical imperatives, experience from China and elsewhere shows that when governments see potential for the development of local industry, there is acceleration in the regulatory reforms needed for a successful implementation of climate change mitigating technologies, particularly in energy. This in turn opens up markets and further expands the overall share of renewable energy generation.
There is an important role for progressive governments in providing suitable frameworks for clean energy. However, there are limits to what can be achieved through government action because clean technologies are generally the private intellectual property of particular individuals and organisations.
It is not in the interest of any organisation to simply give away their unique technology to a current or future competitor. Neither can market based solutions overcome the fundamental conflict between the short-term need of individual firms for competitive advantage and the greater needs of society and planet.
Open source co-operative innovation
One solution: Beyond policy and markets, open source co-operative innovation
Much of the discussion on clean technology focuses on the cutting edge patented or secret technologies with higher economic value resulting from expensive R&D programmes. However, there is a great deal of knowledge on clean technologies that does not belong to anyone in particular, it is public and dispersed, shared among the industry, academia and government. Onawi is creating a free technology library by compiling available designs and documentation into a common technology pool based on non-restricted knowledge of renewable energy: expired patents, eco-patents, public designs, academic research, etc. We will transform them into usable formats.
We are working in partnership with the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy from Denmark - www. folkecenter .dk -, who have already provided designs for a small educational turbine of 7.5kW, and a larger 100kW machine. We are actively seeking other partners and collaborations. The renewable energy library will not be simply a static repository, but will form the basis for a community for co-operative technology development following an Open Source Innovation model.
We aim to attract very diverse contributions ranging from students, researchers, inventors and independent professionals to companies working in the sector. In this sense, we will particularly encourage component suppliers, independent consultancies and newcomers wishing to start in renewables.
Although Open Source development has been related mainly to software production, there are initiatives in what is termed Open Design of hardware. However, the production of tangible goods, rather than software, introduces a new set of challenges, including higher impact of design modifications, manufacturing constrains, supply chain, cost of inventory, etc. Renewable energy systems require both software and hardware.
Onawi Open Development Framework
Onawi will initially work towards the design and development of a certified generic wind turbine and will engage in technology transfer projects to promote manufacture by local partners.
ONAWI will take its first steps with medium-sized wind power generation as this is a mature technology that can generate cheaper electricity than some fossil fuels. In the future, we would also like to move into other renewables, such as micro-hydro or solar collectors, and other wind turbine designs.
Onawi is directly focused on the technological aspects of climate change but we also work to ensure the positive participation of civil society, workers and communities in this just transition process.
Onawi will work with other organisations and individuals developing other critical elements for a successful transition to a clean energy future. These include: financing, market integration, labour, environmental regulation, community liaison, etc. We particularly believe there is a need for direct intervention in the creation of industrial capacity that brings benefits to communities through social enterprise.
Importantly, such fundamental technology change requires not just designs and plans, but also the know-how and good will embodied in human beings: engineers, researchers, planners, community leaders, workers, etc. Onawi as such is about people as much as technology."