Edison: Earliest Electric cars, Plug-ins,Solar energy and Windmills


I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power.” Thomas Alva Edison, 1931 just before his death.The prophetic words of this innovator and entrepreneur par excellence is coming true, though it took time, almost a century. Renewable energy is making strides in efficiency and cost reduction and is close to reaching grid par parity ( cost of power equivalent to that produced by fossil fuels without subsidies ) within a decade.

General Photographic Agency/Getty ImagesThomas Edison holding one of the batteries used to power his early electric car, the Baker

An article in Atlanta Constitution in 1901, summarizes how he dreamt of powering a cluster of houses in rural area with wind mills. In 1911 he build drawings of windmills and encouraged manufacturers to build a prototype. Joining hands with Henry Ford he also developed electric cars ( like Teslas and Revas of these days) which would be affordable and practical. The article also discuss plans for plug-ins ( like Better Place of today) along the trolley lines and recharging of batteries using wind energy.

In 1912, his ingenious brilliance and entrepreneurial spirit drove him to design a completely energy sustainable house, completely offgrid, with amenities like heating and cooling, washing machine, electric cooking range and light bulbs. The charge came from 27 batteries in the basement and he was thinking of charging them through windmills later.The NewYork Times described the model experiment in NJ as “utterly and for all time independent of the nearness or farness of the big electric companies“.

His dream of providing electric at failed at that time, maybe because for large gas and electric companies it was a threat as it is now too.

I started this blog with this conversation because Edison’s spirit represents in all companies involved in renewable energy, transforming the world with clean, affordable energy, which also changes the dynamics of social reality and helps inching towards social equity ( more of it on www.sing-onlypossibility.blogspot.com, my blog on socio economic issues and life as a possibility ).

Cheers ! Pranay

Courtsey: Heather Rogers,New York Times, June 3rd 2007.


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