Friday, November 28, 2014

solar plants coming on line

"Solar power just hit one of its biggest milestones, in more ways than one. First Solar recently finished building Topaz, a 550-megawatt plant that represents the largest active solar farm on the planet. And we do mean large -- the installation's nine million solar panels cover 9.5 square miles of California's Carrizo Plain. It's an impressive feat that should power 160,000 homes on Pacific Gas and Electric's grid, although it won't be alone at the top for very long. First Solar's Desert Sunlight farm will match that capacity once its last solar cells go online, and SunPower's 579MW Solar Star is due to go live in 2015."

Looking good.  Little maintenance.  No pollution.,-120.0600113,5525m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Disruptive Innovation; how to deal with it

"Disrupt is perhaps the most misused term in entrepreneurship.
Successful new companies can indeed disrupt an industry. Amazon disrupted book retailing. Its ascent caused the failure of the incumbent Borders.
Two conditions are required for disruption.
First, a substantial fraction of the market must prefer the product or service of the new company.
Second, the incumbents must be unable to respond and replicate. When those conditions are met, a new entrant can gain sufficient market share that existing firms fade into irrelevance.
But disruption is rare, and it’s not required for entrepreneurial success."

On the other hand...

"Cabbies in Montreal and Toronto want their cities to put the brakes on Uber, the popular car service app that taxi firms say is disrupting the industry.
The online car-hailing service allows users to summon a ride simply by pushing a button on their smartphones. Uber has been a hit among clients in about 70 major cities worldwide since its 2012 launch, but the taxi industries in the only two Canadian cities with functioning Uber programs worry the app is driving business away.
Uber prices vary city to city, and users have in the past complained about price hikes at times of peak demand such as rush hour or during severe weather. The app introduced a "surge drop" feature earlier this year that lets users know when rides will get cheaper.
Unlike taxi or limo companies, Uber Technologies Inc. isn't licensed as a private car hire business and reasons it doesn't need the same kind of authorization, because it's a tech company rather than a dispatcher.
But that doesn't sit right with Canadian transportation regulators and taxi companies."

Cabbies have to go through training, and pay an annual license fee.  Uber drivers don't.  This is not fair.  So in this case, the innovation is disrupting the city's desire to make sure paid drivers are well-trained and safe.  Uber only goes by a system whereby riders can rate their driver.  So while the innovation is no doubt great for users, it is devastating to taxi driver's livelihood.
A solution would be for the taxi companies to adopt the innovation, but I'm not sure how easy that would be.  Another solution would be for the city to treat Uber drivers the same as taxi drivers, making the same requirements for both.  As can be seen, the word "disruptive" certainly applies in this case.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

480 square foot micro-home is about right for one person

"Really, when you get right down to it, the Solo 40 is pretty much a 'Park Model' design, a legal definition of a house that is 15' wide and less than 540 square feet in Canada, 400 in the USA. This is a smart move; Altius has learned to max out the size, (it keeps getting cheaper per square foot) lose the high tech stuff like solar and keep it simple (parks have sewer, water and electric hookup) get rid of lofts and things that complicate construction and try and find the right balance between quality and price, which is really, really hard to do. (People are still going to complain IT'S $195 PER SQUARE FOOT!!!)"

You still need storage space, though.

Maybe China learned from Tiananmen Square?

HONG KONG (AP) — Workers in Hong Kong on Tuesday started clearing away barricades at one site of the student protest that has rocked the city for the last two months.
The removal comes after a Hong Kong court granted a restraining order against the protesters last week requiring them to clear the area in front of a tower in the central part of Hong Kong as well a separate order against a second protest site Mong Kok brought by taxi and minibus operators.
The workers could be seen cutting plastic ties holding the barricades together. Students, who have been protesting for greater democracy in the former British colony, did not resist. Some protesters had already moved their tents to other parts of the protest zone ahead of the clearance operation."

Students are being peaceful. The government is being peaceful, after first attacking the protesters.  It looks like people are learning how best to do this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Watch this gif of mom-and-pop stores closing across the US

Walmart is an innovative and efficient company.  That is good. They also swallow whole small community businesses as they open up and take away customers from mom and pop stores that can't compete with Walmart's purchasing power.  So as small business owners shutter their doors, Walmart replaces them with minimum wage workers, and sucks the profit back to Arkansas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A tiny apartment where everything is hidden away

258 square feet but still liveable.  But where is his computer work station?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

shipping container apartments in DC

"Two months after breaking ground, if that’s even the right term, the District’s first residential building made entirely out of the giant metal boxes is finished in Brookland.
Designed by Travis Price Architects, the three-story, four apartment unit development at 3305 Seventh St. NE was envisioned as a 'new, bold, ecological, recyclable kit of parts housing module, and to help make use of one of America's biggest problems: No exports of goods — 700,000 (and counting) sea containers left in our sea ports'."

This is a good use of a cheap resource, but I wonder about sound inside.  How is it for noise insulation?  Waiting to hear.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Germany's small power generation solution

"The prize-winning utility, one of Germany's early pioneers in the field, is owned by the old medieval market town of Schwäbisch Hall, north of Stuttgart. Most of the utility's suppliers are private people, farmers, and small businesses, as well as 'energy co-ops,' which are clean-energy facilities owned and collectively managed by a group of local investors.
'It's a complex work of art,' says van Bergen about Stadtwerke Schwäbisch Hall's daily managing of the county's energy supply. 'Local utilities and citizen-owned energy sources are just the right fit for Germany's Energiewende,' he says, referring to the German term for the country's coordinated transition to clean energy. One of the crucial take-aways from Schwäbisch Hall -- and Germany's renewable energy revolution -- is that small can be big, and become much bigger quickly.
In just a dozen years, industrial-powerhouse Germany has replaced around 31 percent of its nuclear and fossil fuel generated electricity with green power, produced overwhelmingly from moderately sized onshore wind, solar PV, hydro, and bio-energy installations..."

Multiple mall energy producers are less susceptible to attack and natural disasters as well.  In other words, they are more robust.