Talking energy

I had a fascinating meeting this afternoon with Shann Turnbull, Robin Murray, Sion Whellens and the team from the New Economics Foundation about ideas on linking currencies with energy.

Around the same time, the Prime Minister held his Summit with big energy companies, I was hearing about the ‘kiwah’, operating in Amsterdam. This operates as a currency used locally whose value is tied to renewable energy co-operatives. The name stands for kilowatt / hours.

There has long been talk of complementary currencies and in ways some of the traditional cooperative milk tokens fit into that history. But there appears to be some rapid innovation and growth – perhaps fuelled by economic austerity (the Depression was a time of similar innovation and ferment), perhaps by Eurozone weaknesses (new local currencies and barter re-emerging in Greece) perhaps by thinking on sustainability and how renewable energy can underpin economic activity.

Brixton has just launched a electronic version of it’s local currency and I understand that Bristol credit union may do the same later this year.

Energy is clearly vital to pretty much the entire landscape of economic life. Alongside this meeting I met the Paris-based team at the visionary 40 Foundation who are renewing the ideas of an early twentieth century Nobel Prize winner, Frederick Soddy. The argument is simple – that we should understand, account for and align economic and energy flows in a more direct way than treating the market price of energy borrowed from the future as our measure of sustainability.

The price of energy is one to watch, but more important still is its true cost.

3 thoughts on “Talking energy

  1. Hi Ed

    Many thanks for meeting with us today.

    You demonstrated great leadership by becoming with Pat Conaty a founding member of working group for establishing an independent inflation resisting unit of account in the UK.

    My vision for the working group is set out in my short article on “Remaking the Economy” that I posted on March 18th, 2009 at

    My article describes the creation of cost carrying money redeembable in units of renewable energy. The usage fee for this “green” money would be but a fraction of the cost of credit card commissions. However, this would still raise sufficient funds over 12 months to allow all the new green dollars created to be redeemed!

    Because the money is self-financing it can be GIVEN away to firms that might be in distress or cannot obtain bank finance. As I stated at the end of my article “The gift could be tied, for example, to employee tenure, remuneration and their benefits so as to reduce unemployment and welfare payments.”

    In this way the UK government could support small and medium sized enterprises without using tax payer’s money or going into debt. Hopefully your initiative today will lead to the creation of “financial lifeboats” to support and maintain not just the coop sector that you represent by all SME’s and those employed by them throughout the economy.

    Many many thanks

    Shann Turnbull

  2. Thanks for this important information about the mobile phone payment system and the paper by the 40 Foundation. I have posted extracts of this article together with links to the mentioned paper, including a video presentation of it on YouTube at:
    Regarding the connection between money and energy, here are two posts that might stimulate further reflection:

    Energy = Money? A Proposal For a New Currency Based on Rossi’s E-Cat Technology

    Proposed new currency would be backed by E-Cat energy.

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