Industrial designer Jonathan Globerson has one of those ideas that makes you go, “Oh, duh! Why don’t we all have one yet?” It’s so simple, and yet so smart. His Greenerator design is a personal generator that converts wind and sun to power and can do so from a balcony, without messing with the view.

Here in Colorado, where one of the numerous local ballot questions was about extending the building height limit to allow for renewable energy projects on rooftops, Globerson’s design could be a way to preserve the view while reducing reliance on coal. Heck, if it’s possible to squeeze an evening full of hours out of a Nokero solar lightbulb on my modest, north-facing balcony, imagine what I could do with a Greenerator.

Looking a little like a cross between a double helix and a barber shop pole, the Greenerator design calls for a wind turbine, a half-dome shaped compartment for the generator, a controller, ultracapacitor, inverter and a solar panel attached to a balcony edge with a rail clamp and floor screws. The design might not be gorgeous, but it’s not worse than a satellite TV dish — and those are everywhere.

Globerson’s design calls for magnetic levitation to reduce the wind turbine friction, as well as flexible thin-film solar cells that would require less material than traditional solar panels. According to his design specs, the Greenerator wouldn’t be powering your whole apartment, but it could reduce the annual cost of electricity by 6 percent. The Greenerator alone could power a refrigerator or a 32″ flat panel TV, which strikes me as being fairly impressive for such a seemingly small generator.

So far, a 1:4 scale prototype of the Greenerator is up and running:

Analysis by Alyssa Danigelis

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