Wake Up McCain and Obama - We need a future focused infrastructure now

July 22 2008 / by Antonio Manfredi / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

The recent announcement of a joint venture between GE and Abu Dhabi to finance and build advanced water and energy infrastructure highlights where American investment needs to be, and why we are falling behind.

An analysis of todays announcement of a massive joint venture between GE and Abu Dhabi offers the most relevant roadmap to date for the future of high tech infrastructure, specifically the development of clean technologies. This global movement offers an amazing view into the future, as the most progressive companies and goverments in the world hash out collaborative plans to deploy the latest and best solutions for the global technology elite.

Throughout history the areas of the world with the best infrastructure have been the dominant forces in global trade and innovation. In the past it meant the best roads, ports, schools, etc. GE and Abu Dhabi show us that it is now a cross pollination of public and private partnership, facilitated by investment authorities and Fortune 500 companies. As we break down this strategic partnership piece by piece, we get a glimpse at the mechanisms in place that are creating the homes, towns, and cities of the future, and how their interplay effects a larger ecosystem of innovation. No one can dismiss this as central planning, rather it is an attempt by government to become more innovative and responsive to the needs of tomorrow. (cont.)

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Kleiner invests in Smart Grid startup, 'Big Grid' prepares for disruptions ahead

October 08 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 7 Hot

Red Herring is reporting on a $75 million investment round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for Smart Grid startup Silver Spring Networks. Kleiner’s involvement lends support to forecasts that ‘smart grid’ systems are a near term possibility.

The ‘smart grid’ is coming, but arriving at this future is likely to include some twists, turns and battles led by some ‘Big Grid’ utilities who might struggle to see their role in this alternative future.

At the surface ‘smart grid’ concepts sound like a logical next step for the modern day utility grid: minimizing downtime, managing peak demand, improving efficiencies, and anticipating problems before they occur all sound like a positive step for the world. But underneath it all the ‘smart grid’ is incredibly disruptive to the regulatory framework, operational standards, capital investment strategies and business models of most large utilities.

To understand the evolution of the ‘smart grid’ and the utility of the future, we can imagine two initial stages of development.

Part One: Software for Managing Infrastructure
The first steps to building a ‘smart grid’ utilize the power of software to maximize the efficiency of the grid. Simply put, we add a layer of information technology to improve management of existing one-way grid infrastructure to improve performance and reduce costs.

Leading startups include: Gridpoint, Silver Spring Networks, BPL Global, Comverge, Enerwise and Enernoc

Part Two: Onsite Power Generation & Electron Storage

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IBM's vision of 'Smart Planet', expects sensors and software to launch era of Smart Infrastructure

November 07 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2020   Rating: 7 Hot

What happened?
Mark your calendars! The business case for ‘smart infrastructure’ has been made by one of the world’s biggest companies. On November 6th, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano delivered a speech (text / video) at the New York Council on Foreign Relations. Palmisano highlighted ‘Big Blue’s vision of a ‘Smart Planet’ and the tremendous near term opportunities in building out the global smart infrastructures for energy, water, information, and transportation of people and goods.

Palmisano echoed a vision described by visionaries and futurists long ago of a ‘digital planet’. Now we might expect broader endorsements for ‘smart infrastructure’ by mainstream business and policy leaders especially in the US under the incoming Obama Adminstration. We can also build more reliable forecasts and roadmaps based on expectations for investments and application of technologies that improve the flow of traffic (without adding more lanes), more efficient energy grids, wider access to clean water and food, improved personal safety, and more secure information flows around financial, governance, and healthcare information.

Quotes from Palmisano’s address:
What’s making this possible?
First, our world is becoming instrumented
There will likely be 4 billion mobile phone subscribers by the end of this year… and 30 billion Radio Frequency Identification tags produced globally within two years. Sensors are being embedded across entire ecosystems—supply-chains, healthcare networks, cities… even natural systems like rivers.

Second, our world is becoming interconnected
Very soon there will be 2 billion people on the Internet. But in an instrumented world, systems and objects can now “speak” to one another, too. Think about the prospect of a trillion connected and intelligent things—cars, appliances, cameras, roadways, pipelines… even pharmaceuticals and livestock.

Third, all things are becoming intelligent
New computing models can handle the proliferation of end-user devices, sensors and actuators and connect them with back-end systems. Combined with advanced analytics, those supercomputers can turn mountains of data into intelligence that can be translated into action, making our systems, processes and infrastructures more efficient, more productive and responsive—in a word, smarter.

Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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Smart Grid Infrastructure Startups to Watch in 2009

January 05 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

dumb gridWhat might be at the top of the list as the 'Next Big Thing' for the energy sector?  

Creating a 'Smart Grid' (Guide) for Electricity that is more resilient, responsive and efficient.

2009 should be a significant year for investing in the three main ingredients of smart infrastructure: Software, Sensors & Storage.

In 2009 we will be watching for major investments made by utiltiies with the help of 'smart grid' startups and incumbents capable of transforming how we manage, distribute and store electrons:

1) Gridpoint
2) Comverge
3) BPL Global (Better Power Lines)
4) Enernoc
5) Enerwise
6) Trilliant Networks
7) Silver Spring NetworksKleiner Perkins investment
8) Tendril
9) SmartSynch
10) Itron
11) Sequentric 
12) Eka Systems

Other notable sensor and systems startups: 
Energy Hub
, GainSpan (Embedded Systems), GreenBox, eMeter (Enterprise)

Incumbents to Watch:
General Electric, IBM, Honeywell, and Johnson Controls

Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

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[Video] An Inside Look at Sentilla's Vision of a Smarter Energy Future

February 05 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

The Takeaway's Host John Hockenberry interviews the CEO of Sentilla and explores the huge opportunity around the convergence of energy and information.  The era of 'smarter energy' systems is likely to be more efficient and profitable because it taps the integration of software, sensors and energy storage. 

We have written about Sentilla in the past, along with other smart energy startups including yesterday's post on a 'swarm' organization model developed by REGEN Energy. We have also posted on a number of 'smart grid' infrastructure efforts being pushed by IBM, Johnson Controls and Cisco

Related posts on The Smart Grid on The Energy Roadmap.com

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[Video] MIT Media Lab's Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry Introduce Sixth Sense Wearable Interface

March 11 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Gadgets   Year: General   Rating: 3

One of the hottest talks from this year's TED Conference is a wearable system demonstration from MIT Media LabPattie Maes and Pranav Mistry introduce a working prototype aimed at augmenting our world with a 'Sixth Sense' layer of information using image sensing and projection systems.

 

TED Talk Video

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Report: US Electricity grid needs $1.5 - 2 Trillion investments by 2030 (7 Ideas to Watch)

November 11 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

What happened?
An Edison Foundation funded report conducted by The Brattle Group has some sobering news that could radically change the tone of infrastructure investment in the incoming Obama Administration, and lead to a boom in energy startups able to deliver lower cost, innovative solutions.

The new report “Transforming America’s Power Industry: The Investment Challenge 2010-2030” [Full Report / Exec Summary] estimates that the U.S. utility industry will have to invest between $1.5 and $2.0 trillion between 2010 and 2030 to maintain current levels of reliable energy service for customers throughout the country.

“This study highlights the investment challenges confronting the power industry in the coming decades,” according to Brattle Group Principal Peter Fox-Penner. “The industry is facing enormous investment needs during a period of modest growth, high costs, and very substantial policy shifts.”

Why is this important to the future of energy?
This investment figure challenges some deeply held assumptions and visions of the future promoted by people on all sides of the political spectrum. Free market advocates will have to confront role of government spending on infrastructure. Unless we completely abandon the centralized power plant to home model that exists today, most of these investments will come from states and the federal government.

But the more emotional conversation deals with the dreams of new sources from solar, wind and ocean power. This report confirms the brutal reality- Renewables alone, cannot scale to meet demand through 2030. While Al Gore’s We Campaign is trying to make a convincing case that we can go ‘all green’ in a decade, the numbers do not add up without a radical social-industrial engineering project with no budget limits.

The most likely near term future through 2030?
All sources of energy used in electric power generation will grow.

What to watch for
These types of reports often grab headlines, but are quickly forgotten by the public. Yet there is evidence to suggest that America is preparing to make significant investments in our energy infrastructure and change its regulatory framework to enable the Utility industry to transform its business and operating models. [Until those regulatory changes are made, the utilities will remain locked in their current business models, and will be unable to introduce innovative and cost saving efforts.]

Here are Seven Ideas to Watch:

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #9 Infrastructure Gains Attention

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

The 'Big Grid' is based upon a mass distribution model from the 1930's and technology from even earlier.  But industry and the Department of Energy are beginning to develop standards to transform the Big Grid into the Smart Grid so that it can handle renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, distributed energy generation, demand side managment, and information about it all. The sale of electric vehicle charging technology company V2Green to Smart Grid technology company GridPoint marks the beginning of a market where hi-tech geeks meet energy geeks. 

Could there be a collision of paradigms between geeks who've grown up under Moore's law and those whose basic technology hasn't changed in 70 years?

TERM-Infrastrcture.jpg

Photo courtesy Bradley Woods.

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #7 Geeks Go Green

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

Geeks look at the Big Grid and it reminds them of the old main frame computer days.  They look at the auto industry and and see rust.  So, they'll change it themselves.  Through their RE<C program, Google is funding renewable energy companies with the goal of generating 1 gigawatt of energy at a price less than coal.  Applied Materials has joined Google as high tech leaders that are covering their rooftops and parking garages with solar panels.  Former Intel CEO Andy Grove challenges his old company to get into batteries for electric vehicles.  Silicon Valley VC legends Vinod Khosla and John Doer fund cleantech companies.

Can these hi-tech leaders find success that scales in a business where there's no Moore's Law?

Geeks Go Green: Google fires up it's rechargeIT and RE<C programs

Photo courtesy Google.

Top Energy Stories of 2008:

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Newark, Delaware exploring 'Vehicle to Grid' (V2G) Infrastructure (Why I Am Skeptical of Plug Ins!)

January 25 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

V2G Delware

Political and Industry leaders agree that it is time to re-imagine the Electrical 'Grid' as something 'smarter', more resilient, and open to new forms of energy storage and onsite production.

Utilities are now exploring the idea that electric vehicles (powered by batteries, fuel cells and capacitors) will someday become the new backbone of the world's electricity grids.

The questions are: 'How' and 'What does the 'Energy Web' of Tomorrow look like?'

Do we 'recharge' objects via cords  and wall sockets, or do objects have their own internal power generators that are 'refueled' with high density energy 'packets'?

We are only at the beginning of exploring the future schematics of an 'energy web' infrastructure that  integrates electric vehicles.  But the test programs are starting to scale up!

The City of Newark has approved a small test project led by the University of Delaware's Center for Carbon-free Power Integration (CCPI) to test 'vehicle to grid' systems using plug-in hybirds integrated into the local utility grid. 

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Energy Storage & Production
(& My Skepticism of Wall Socket Infrastructure)

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