Technology News

Getting Off the Grid: IKEA Leads the Way in Wind Energy

(3BL Media and Just Means)-The Windy City is about to get windier. And hopefully, less reliant on fossil fuels.  IKEA recently announced their purchase of Hoopeston Wind, a wind farm of 49 wind turbines near Hoopeston in Vermilion County, two hours south of Chicago.  The purchase is the first wind power investment IKEA has made in the USA and their largest renewable energy project ever.

Capitalizing Conservation: Land Conservation Crowdfunding Platform Gives 100%

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - The first-ever, crowdfunding campaign to take... not 10% of the project funding, not 5% of the project funding, not even a dollar to compensate for Paypal's fees...ZERO percent of the project funding--- has finally hit the market.  In case you didn't get that: Yes, they are giving 100% of their crowd-sourced funding to the projects. Their niche focus? Land conservation projects.

Emergency Health Care Improved by Innovative App

(3BL Media and Just Means)- "One picture is worth a thousand clinical words," said Crystal Law, MIT Alumna, former EMT and Co-Founder of Twiage.

Roshan, the First Benefit Corporation in Afghanistan, Brings People and Hope Closer

(3BL Media, Just Means)- In 2003, Afghanis had no access to international telecommunications. To call family members or business contacts anywhere else in the world, they had no option but to cross the border into a neighboring country, a luxury in which most Afghanis could not afford.

Coca Cola is the David that the Slingshot Needs.

"The Slingshot is the little tool that David needs to defeat Goliath"—Dean Kamen.

Debate Over Value of Renewables Brings in Heavy Hitters

A recent article in The Economist describes a blog post by Charles Frank of the Brookings Institute in which he questions the  methods that have been used to compare renewable energy sources with more traditional sources like coal, gas and nuclear.

Drawing on the work of Paul Joskow of MIT, Frank claims that the generally accepted levelized cost models, which essentially divide the total lifetime system cost by the total amount of electricity produced, do not adequately discount the value of renewables sources like solar and wind based on their intermittent nature. Joskow’s reasoning is that since these intermittent sources vary their output at different times of the day and the year, that should be reflected in their value, since the demand for, and the price of electricity also varies throughout the day, at least in the commercial market.

So, given that wind, for example, produces electricity mostly at night, when the power is less valuable, that should be reflected in the value of a wind investment. Solar, on the other hand produces mostly at mid-day, when the power is most valuable, so it may be getting short-changed by the levelized cost approach.

Frank started with Joskow’s premise, then went on to perform a detailed analysis of various energy sources, based on avoided emissions and avoided costs, which revealed, he says, that contrary to popular belief, solar and wind are the least cost-effective way of producing low carbon electricity, followed by hydro, nuclear, and finally at the top of the list is combined cycle gas turbine power. Written from the perspective of building new electric generation capacity, Frank concludes, “Assuming that reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are valued at $50 per metric ton and the price of natural gas is not much greater than $16 per million Btu, the net benefits of new nuclear, hydro, and natural gas combined cycle plants far outweigh the net benefits of new wind or solar plants.”

The problem with an analysis like this is, given the rapidity with which renewable energy costs are dropping, trying to compare them with traditional sources is akin to trying to catch a falling knife. Frank’s data was obsolete by the time the ink dried on the page.

In addition, the analysis is highly sensitive to the eventual market price for carbon, which could swing the results dramatically. Also not considered is the impact of energy storage which could easily neutralize the liabilities that form the basis for Frank’s thesis.


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