Thomas Dolby’s Solar and Wind Powered Music Studio

For the benefit of those who grew up with 80s radio, and even for those who didn’t, I will not make any puns on the whole ‘blinded with science’ hook with this post. This is tempting when talking about technology entrepreneur, musician, songwriter, TED regular, and all-around tech geek Thomas Dolby, who’s smash hit ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ was a staple in 1982.

But, I will say that Dolby, among many other things when it comes to forward-thinking technology, is a modern proponent of alternative energy, including solar power and windpower. Coincidentally, “Windpower” is another single of his, which would make for a better pun, technically. But in any case, on with this post!

One of the misconceptions you’re likely to find on a cultural level is that solar power and power derived from wind turbines is somehow not quite adequate for the average home. Solar power blogs across the board have done their part to try and dispel this.

But, in reading Thomas Dolby’s blog, it seems that his entire studio is powered by alternative energy. The studio in question is lovingly referred to as The Nutmeg, a converted 1930s-era lifeboat which stands as Dolby’s music-making getaway on his property in England. The studio is the site of his work on an upcoming album A Map of the Floating City, due for release in 2011.

'The Nutmeg' is a 1930s-era lifeboat converted by Dolby into a fully-functional music studio that runs on two solar panels and a 450-watt wind turbine on the mast (both pictured here).

Dolby uses two solar panels on the Nutmeg, and one 450-watt wind turbine mounted on the Nutmeg‘s mast to power the studio space, which includes several computers, monitors, a number of keyboards, and other equipment that requires a considerable amount of power over a significant period of usage. This is not to mention standard requirements of heat and light.

Also, because of Dolby’s interest in and expertise with technology, many of his songs have been created using remote recording techniques. Collaborators recorded parts for his songs, and sent them to Dolby (across the ocean, in some cases) to him via the Internet. This approach of course results in even further reductions in carbon footprints. But the the most salient point here is that this reliance on operable technology requires power sources in which Dolby must place a great deal of confidence to help him get things done. Solar and wind do so, and then some.

I suppose the reason this impresses me so much is that it got me thinking about the potential of solar and wind power for residential settings here in North America. What if every home came with at least two solar panels, or other photovoltaic elements, and a 450-Watt wind turbine? If it works for Dolby, who powers his entire studio using this technology, then why shouldn’t it work for the rest of us who want to run our computers, microwaves, heating systems, et cetera?

I just can’t think of a reason.

For more information about the Nutmeg, and to hear some new music from Dolby too, check out this video:

For more information still, you can follow Thomas Dolby on Twitter, and subscribe to the Thomas Dolby YouTube channel for information about technology, and his upcoming record.


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