Sunday, May 24, 2015

Animals Make Us Human

_Animals Make Us Human:  Creating the Best Life for Animals_ by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
NY:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
ISBN 978-0-15-101489-7

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships:  Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron
Future Horizons, November 1, 2005;  ISBN-10: 193256506X;  ISBN-13: 978-1932565065

Developing Talents: Careers For Individuals With Asperger Syndrome And High-functioning Autism by Temple Grandin with Kate Duffey
Autism Asperger Publishing Company; Updated, Expanded Edition edition, November 1, 2008;  ISBN-10: 1934575283:  ISBN-13: 978-1934575284

(3)  My theory is that the environment animals live in should activate their positive emotions as much as possible, and not activate their negative emotions any more than necessary.  If we get the animal's emotions right, we will have fewer problem behaviors....

Emotions come first.

(4)  Focus on the emotion, not the behavior....

A stereotypy is an abnormal repetitive behavior (ARB for short), such as a lion or tiger pacing back and forth in its cage for hours on end.

(6)  SEEKING:  Dr. [Jaak] Panksepp says SEEKING is "the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment."
[Affective Neuroscience:  The Foundations of Human and Animals Emotions (NY:  Oxford University Press, 1998)]

(7)  RAGE:  Dr. Panksepp believes that the core emotion of RAGE evolved from the experience of being captured and held immobile by a predator.  Stimulation of subcortical brain areas causes an animal to go into a rage.

(8)  FEAR:  the Fear system doesn't need a lot of explanation.  Animals and humans feel FEAR when their survival is threatened in any way, from the physical to the mental and social.  The FEAR circuits in the subcortex of the brain have been fully mapped.  Destruction of the amygdala, the brain's fear center, turns off fear....

Panic:  Panic is Jaak's word for the social attachment system.  All baby animals and humans cry when their mothers leave, and an isolated baby whose mother does not come back is likely to become depressed and die.  The PANIC system probably evolved from physical pain....

(9)  He [Panksepp] calls these three [more positive] emotions "more sophisticated special-purpose socioemotional systems that are engaged at appropriate times in the lives of all mammals."

LUST:  LUST means sex and sexual desire.

CARE:  CARE is Dr. Panksepp's term for maternal love and caretaking.

PLAY:  PLAY is the brain system that produces the kind of roughhousing play all young animals and humans do at the same stage in their development.  The parts of the brain that motivate PLAY are in the subcortex.  No one understands the nature of playing or the PLAY system in the brain well yet, although we do know that play behavior is probably a sign of good welfare, because an animal that's depressed, frightened, or angry doesn't play.  The PLAY system produces feelings of joy.

(13)  This [experience with barren environment pigs and abnormal overgrowth of dendrites in the somatosensory cortex] is where my belief came that it is so important to satisfy the SEEKING system to prevent abnormal brain development.

(23)  The rule is simple:  Don't stimulate RAGE, FEAR, and PANIC if you can help it, and do stimulate SEEKING and also PLAY.  Provide environments that will keep the animal occupied and prevent the development of stereotypies.

(58)  Don't go toward a dangerous dog face-to-face, and never make eye contact.  Primates like face-to-face introductions;  dogs don't.

(72)  The only way to train a wild animal is to use positive reinforcement.  Positive reinforcement means rewarding the animal for doing the things you're training it to do.

(104)  But now that researchers understand dopamine and the SEEKING system better, the way we think about rewards is changing.  What's rewarding about rewards isn't so much the reward item itself, but the time you spend looking forward to it.  In some ways, chasing after things is more fun than actually getting them.

(115)  It is really important to recognize the behavioral and physical signs of fear.  A fearful horse switches his tail.  As he becomes more scared, the tail moves faster.  Other signs are a high head, sweating when there is little physical exertion, and quivering skin.  A really frightened horse gets bugged-out eyes and the whites show. 

(128)  Every time a parent yells at a child for doing something bad and the child stops doing whatever he's doing, that is negative reinforcement.  The kid's behavior is painful for the parent and yelling makes the painful thing _stop_, which makes yelling more likely to happen in the future because it got results.  Yelling has been reinforced by the kid stopping what he's doing.  But then, because the parent yells so much, the kid starts to habituate to yelling.  He gets used to it.  The kid stops responding to being yelled at, so the parent yells louder, and then the kid does respond. That reinforces the parent for yelling louder, and the kid habituates to the louder yelling and so on.

(129)  Turning on the SEEKING system is a good thing to do when you're training any animal or person, but it may be the most powerful with high-fear prey animals.

(131) When the animal learns to learn, it starts to _offer behavior_.  That's what behaviorists call it.  It'll intentionally run through all kinds of different behaviors looking for one that will work.

Karen Pryor says animals that have learned to learn start to feel like they're training the person, not vice versa.  They know they can figutre out a way to make the trainer give them treats....

Even though the teacher or psychologist has created an environment that "controls" the person's behavior through positive reinforcement, the person doesn't feel like he's being controlled, probably because he is getting reinforced for behaviors he didn't "have" to do.  The authors say:  "The behavior is likely to be reported as having been the product of an autonomous decision to act.  Subjectively, behaviors that are followed by pleasing consequences are likely to be verbally described as those that we 'like' to or 'choose' to engage in."

(132)  Animals trained using positive reinforcement learn faster, too.  If you put a horse in a maze and let him find his way out through trial and error he'll finish faster than a horse who gets a shock when he makes a wrong turn.  Paul McGreevy says, "Punishment can stifle creativity and impede a horse's innate problem-solving skills."

(138)  Herd animals seem to make decisions about movement democratically.  Red deer move when 62 percent of the herd has stood up, not when one "leader deer" has gotten up and signaled everyone else to move.

(142)  According to Dr. [Jeffrey] Gray, who is at the Institute of Psychology at King's College in London, fears fall into one of five categories:
high-intensity stimuli
special "evolutionary dangers"
socially learned fears
learned fears that are acquired when a neutral person, thing, or situation is associated with something bad
novel stimuli

(145)  According to Dr. [Peter] Milner, the brain's default setting is:  If nothing is investigated, nothing is gained.  If animals or people can't predict whether an action will have a good result or a bad one, they go ahead and perform the action.  New things are always unpredictable, so I conclude that animals and people are programmed to pay attention to and explore new things.

(166)  Another obstacle is that to be a good stockperson you have to recognize that an animal is a conscious being that has feelings, and some people don't want to think of animals that way.  This is true of researchers and veterinarians as well as stockpeople.

(169-170)  The equipment I design is all behaviorally based;  it will work only if you're handling the cattle properly.

This is a very difficult concept to get across.  People adopt new handling equipment much more quickly than they adopt the behavioral principles they need to make a piece of equipment work...  I get twice as many orders for $55 books on how to build corrals and races as I do for $59 videotapes on the principles of good stockmanship.  People think buying the technology is all they need to do.

(173)  Candace Croney and Stan Curtis at Pennsylvania State University made an indestructible video game joystick by attaching a car gearshift to a standard game controller inside a very sturdy box.  (It had to be strong so the pigs wouldn't chew it up before they learned to play.)
NB:  Video games for pigs which they kept playing even when the treat reward feeder broke

(177)  Dr. Panksepp says that SEEKING inhibits fear, so if you reduce opportunities for SEEKING, you're likely to increase the sensitivity of the FEAR system.

(180)  Work with the animal's natural behavior:  That message has to be repeated over and over again.

(190-191)  There is such a thing as "human nature," and managers should think about stockpeople and themselves the way animal ethologists think about animals:  as conscious beings who predictably follow the rules of behavior for their species.  Instead of relying purely on short-term training programs and employee willpower, managers should start thinking like ethologists and expert trainers.

The most important thing an effective manager needs to do to stay on top of his own behavior is to guard against desensitization to the animals' fear and panic.

(191)  The first thing an effective manager must do to take care of the animals is get rid of employees who are bullies.  I've seen many times that there is always one ringleader for really nasty cruelty to animals.  It's the same principle as playground bullying, where there is often one leader and the rest of the kids go along.  Take away the leader, and the bullying stops.  On a farm or in a meat plant, the ringleader must be either fired or reassigned to a nonanimal job.  He should not be working with animals....

A good manager creates an environment that reinforces good behavior by employees.  The basic principle is:  Make the environment work for you, not against you.  Never leave up to willpower and self-discipline what you can do with environment.

(197)  Dr. Hemsworth says that to change behavior you need to do three things:
Change the beliefs that underlie the behavior.
Change the behavior itself.
Maintain the changed attitudes and behavior.

(203)  I discovered that when I gave out lots of information I got more consulting jobs than I could handle.  I gave the designs away free and made a living by charging for custom designs and consulting.

(219-220)  The rapist roosters violently attack hens and injure and even kill them.  Before the 1990s there weren't any rapist roosters.  They just suddenly appeared out of the blue.  First it was just one strain of roosters that had become aggressive but within a couple of years almost all strains had developed the same behavior.  Nobody knows why.

The rapist roosters have two problems:  They are hyper-aggressive _and_ they have stopped doing the courtship dance the hens need to see before she will mate.  They've lost the little piece of genetic code that makes them do the dance.  When the hens don't see the courtship dance, they don't become sexually receptive, which may make the roosters' aggresson worse.  An unreceptive hen would be a form of frustration because it is a restraint on the rooster's action.  So the RAGE system would be activated to some degree....

Ian Duncan has an interesting theory about what might have happened.  Dr. Duncan points out that big-breasted male birds have trouble mating because their huge chests get in the way.  Male turkeys have such big breasts now that they can't mate at all and the hens have to be artificially inseminated.

(223)  When a welfare situation deteriorates too slowly for workers and management to notice, the new bad situaiton seems normal.  Sometimes it takes an outsider coming in to make people realize that 5 or 6 percent broken wings on broilers or half-bald laying hens are definitely not normal...

Records can be falsified, so I put the major emphasis on things I can see myself such as broken wings, bruises, and breast blisters (when chickens lie in wet bedding, they get ammonia burns on their breasts and legs).

(243)  My theory is that savant-type skills occur when memories are sensory-based instead of language-based.  Language leads to abstractification and loss of detail.  Animals naturally lack language and autistic people have language problems because of a disorder, but in autistic people and animals the cause of sensory-based memory is the same:  thinking and remembering in pictures instead of words.  It is definitely possible to have episodic memory in pictures instead of words.  I have many visual memories of specific events.

(254)  Touch helps the eye to perceive accurately.  Oliver Sacks desctribes a person who was blind and regained vision as an adult.  To understand the meaning of things he saw with his eyes, he had to touch the objects he was looking at.  I believe that there is something fundamental about the nervous system that prevents the computer mouse from being connected to the brain the same way touch is.  Touching and feeling objects are essential for accurate perception.

(260)  There's a famous book called The Logic of Failure, by Dietrich Dorner, about what happens when people try to manage complex systems.  Dr. Dorner is a German psychologist who did a lot of computer simulation studies where he had experts manage complex systems he created.

(267)  That's because the only animals that have full color vision are primates and birds.  All the rest have dichromatic vision, which means that they see two main colors - bluish purple and yellowish green - and they don't see red.  Anything yellow in the environment will "pop";  they'll notice it right away.

(277)  Polar bears are one of the farthest-ranging animals we know of.  They travel five and a half miles a day and are fantastic swimmers that can swim for hours at a time. The longest polar bear swim a scientist has recorded is two hundred miles.

(300)  Since people are responsible for breeding and raising farm animals, they must also take the responsibility to give the animals living conditions that provide a decent life and a painless death.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Making Conflict Work

4/9/15
Harvard Law
Peter Coleman, Columbia

Making Conflict Work (http://www.makingconflictwork.com) book talk

Self assessment available at 
http://www.makingconflictwork.com/self-assessments/
30 minute set of questions

Not outcomes but patterns and relationships over time
Hierarchical power conflicts - over power differences
3 aspects of a situation in conflict: how important is this, are they with me or against me, are they more or less powerful than me (or equal) 

these interact to create 7 situations - compassionate responsibility, partnership, cooperative dependence, command and control, enemy territory, unhappy tolerance, independence 

basic mindsets:  benevolence, cooperation, support, dominance, competition, appeasement, autonomy
People tend to get stuck in the orientation which is most common in their experience

Strategies - pragmatic benevolence, collaboration, negotiated support, constructive dominance, 3 F (firm fair and friendly) competition, strategic appeasement, selective autonomy, adaptivity, revolution

Adaptivity, the ability to use different strategies, has better outcomes than sticking to one strategy
We tend not to adapt about a third of the time
However sometimes principled rebellion is necessary

1 - step 1 is to have a goal
3 - ask the 3 questions 
7 - seven conflict situations
7 - seven strategies
10 - ten tactics

Q: - the press of time?
Less consensual and cooperative under time constraints.  People move to their dominant response.

30-40% of management time is spent on managing interpersonal conflict

Q:  relationship between adaptivity and ability to change the situation?
Both and

Monday, March 30, 2015

Notes on Mario Livio's book, The Golden Ratio

_The Golden Ratio:  The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number_ by Mario Livio
NY:  Random House, 2002
ISBN 978-0-7679-0815-3

(6)  Roger Herz-Fischler, _A Mathematical History of the Golden Number_

(26)  Pythagoras emphasized the importance of learning above all other activities, because, in his words, "most men and women, by birth or nature, lack the means to advance in wealth and power, but all have the ability to advance in knowledge."

(67)  The key figure and driving force behind the geometrical theorems concerning the Golden Ratio was probably Theaetetus (ca. 417 BC - ca. 369 BC), who according to the Byzantine collection _Suidas_ "was the first to construct the five so-called solids."
NB:  Which actually go back to at least the Neolithic

(79)  In other words, in a regular pentagon, the ratio of the diagonal to the side is equal to ø.  This fact illustrates that the ability to construct a line divided in a Golden Ratio provides at the same time a simple means of constructing the regular pentagon.  The construction of the pentagon was the main reason for the Greek interest in the Golden Ratio. The triangle in the middle of Figure 25a, with a ratio of side to base of ø, is known as a Golden Triangle;  the two triangles on the sides, with a ratio of side to base of 1/ø, are sometimes called Golden Gnomons.

(81)  The Golden Ratio has the unique properties that we produce its square by simply adding the number 1 and its reciprocal by subtracting the number 1.  Incidentally, the negative solution of the equation x sub 2=(1-√5/2) is equal precisely to the negative of 1/ø.

(85)  The Golden Rectangle is the _only_ rectangle with the property that cutting a square from it produces a similar rectangle.
NB:  Successive cutting results in the ability to trace a logarithmic spiral converging on one point, the so-called Eye of God

(101)  As we go farther and farther down the Fibonacci sequence, the ratio of two successive Fibonacci numbers oscillates about (being alternatively greater and smaller) but comes closer and closer to the Golden Ratio.

(111-112)  One of the discoveries of the Bravais brothers in 1837 was that new leaves advance roughly by the same angle around the circle and that this angle (known as the divergence angle) is usually close to 137.5 degrees.  Are you shocked to hear that this value is determined by the the Golden Ratio?  The angle that divides a complete turn in a Golden Ration is 360º/ø=222.5 degrees.  Since this is more than half a circle (180 degrees), we should measure it going in the opposite direction around the circle.  In other words, we should subtract 222.5 from 360, giving us the observed angle of 137.5 degrees (sometimes called the Golden Angle).

(126)  Three of Piero's [della Francesca] mathematical works have survived:  _De Prospective pingendi (On perspective in painting), _Libellus de quinque Corporibus Regularibus (Short book on the five regular solids), and _Trattato d'Abaco (Treatise on the abacus).

(140)  Dürer's polyhedron in Melancolia I:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melencolia_I

(146-147)  Kepler:  The Earth's sphere is the measure of all other orbits.  Circumscribe a dodecahedron around it.  The sphere surrounding it will be that of Mars. Circumscribe a tetrahedron around Mars.  The sphere surrounding it will be that of Jupiter.  Circumscribe a cube around Jupiter.  The surrounding sphere will be that of Saturn.  Now, inscribe an icosahedron inside the orbit of the Earth.  The sphere inscribed in it will be that of Venus.  Inscribe an octahedron inside Venus.  The sphere inscribed in it will be that of Mercury. There you have the basis for the number of the planets.

(155)  Kepler's songs of the planets:  http://www.guitar-theory-in-depth.com/musical-scales.html and in modern notation athttp://soundpossibilities.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/education-music-physics-science-math-and-so-on-ad-infitum/

(171)  Another art theorist who had great interest in the Golden Ratio at the beginning of the twentieth century was the American Jay Hambidge (1867-1924).  In a series of articles and books, Hambidge defined two types of symmetry in classical and modern art.  One, which he called "static symmetry," was based on regular figures like the square and equilateral triangle, and was supposed to produce lifeless art.  The other, which he dubbed "dynamic symmetry," had the Golden Ratio and the logarithmic spiral in leading roles. Hambidge's basic thesis was that the use of "dynamic symmetry" in design leads to vibrant and moving art.  Few today take his ideas seriously.

(193)  [Joseph] Schillinger was  a great believer in the mathematical basis of music, and, in particular, he developed a System of Musical Composition in which successive notes in the melody followed Fibonacci intervals when counted in units of half-steps.

(205)  One of the most startling properties of any Penrose kite-dart tiling design is that the number of kites is about 1.618 times the number of darts.  That is, if we denote by Nkites the number of kites and Ndarts the number of darts, then Nkites/Ndarts approaches ø the larger the area we take in....

Another pair of Penrose tiles that can fill the entire plane (nonperiodically) is composed of two diamonds (rhombi), one fat (obtuse) and one thin (acute).  As in the kite-dart pair, each of the rhombi is composed of two Golden Triangles or Golden Gnomons, and special matching rules have to be obeyed (in this case described by decorating the appropriate sides or angles of the rhombi) to obtain a plane-filling pattern.  Again, in large areas there are 1.618 times more fat rhombi than thin ones, Nfat/Nthin=ø.

(206)  Penrose's work on tiling has been expanded to three dimensions.  In the same way that two-dimensional tiles can be used to fill the plane, three-dimensional "blocks" can be used to fill up space.  IN 1976, mathematician Robert Ammann discovered a pair of "cubes", one "squashed" and one "stretched," known as rhombohedra, that can fill up space with no gaps.  Ammann was further abel to show that given a set of face-matching rules, the pattern that emerges is nonperiodic and has the symmetry properties of the icosahedron; this is the equivalent of fivefold symmetry in three dimensions, since five symmetric edges meet at every vertex).  Not surprisingly, the two rhombohedra are Golden Rhombohedra - their faces actually are identical to the rhombi of the Penrose tiles.

(212)  Consider the following simple algorithm for the creation of a sequence known as the Golden Sequence.  Start with the number 1, and then replace 1 by 10.  From then on, replace each 1 by 10 and each 0 by 1.
1
10
101
10110
10110101
1011010110110
101101011011010110101
NB:  What is this in binary?
181 181 21
181 22
181
22
5
2
1

(216)  These musings have turned into the by now-famous question:  "How long is the coast of Britain?"  Mandelbrot's surprising answer is that the length of the coastline depends on the length of your ruler.
NB:  Zeno's paradox

(219)  Clearly, for many systems (eg, a drainage system or a blood circulatory system), we may be interested in finding out at what reduction factor precisely do the branches just touch and start to overlap.  Surprisingly (or maybe not, by now), this happens for a reduction factor that is equal precisely to _one over the Golden Ratio_, 1/ø=0.618...  This is known as a Golden Tree, and its fractal dimension turns out to be about 1.4404.
NB:  Constructal theory

(224) Elliot's basic idea was relatively simple.  He claimed that market variations can be characterized by a fundamental pattern consisting of five waves during an upward ("optimistic") trend and three waves during a downward ("pessimistic") trend.

(233)  Newcomb... came up with an actual formula that was supposed to give the probability that a random number begins with a particular digit.  That formula gives for 1 a probability of 30%;  for 2, about 17.6%;  for 3, about 12.5%;  for 4, about 9.7%;  for 5, about 8 %;  for 6, about 6.7%;  for 7, about 5.8%;  for 8, about 5%; and for 9, about 4.6%.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BCSEA Webinar: Full Charge on Electric Cars!

3/24/15
webinar:  British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association 
http://www.bcsea.org/webinars
webinar video at https://youtu.be/gLgSFYzmZRo

John Stonier, VeloMetro
http://www.velmetro.com
http://www.signaturerenewables.com

Up to 1915, about half of the cars on the road were electric
Edison's nickel steel batteries in at least one electric vehicle have lasted until 1990
300,000 electric vehicles in USA, mostly in WA, OR, CA
The market has recently switched to buying all electric rather than hybrid
8 states have zero emission vehicle mandates:  CA MA CT OR Maryland RI NY and VT
Electricity is about 20¢ per liter equivalence to gasoline [in British Columbia]
Range is now sufficient for in-city but not quite yet for between cities driving but 300 kilometer [186 mile] batteries are in the pipeline
Hydrogen fuel cell cars are more expensive and more expensive to operate than electric 
An electric car is by definition a luxury vehicle and will last longer with lower operation costs:  1/6 operating costs, 1/6 maintenance, 1/3 depreciation, 3-5x life expectancy of gasoline vehicels
Batteries for Nissan Leaf should last 15-20 years
20% less total costs than internal combustion (his calculation is more like 40% over 10 years)
Tipping points:  condo charging for urban drivers (load sharing), access to HOV lanes, higher incentives, inter-city charging strategy, public charging for hospitality industry - EV tourism in BC, distance based auto insurance
Three DC fast charge standards:  CHAdeMO, SAE Combo, Tesla - SAE may be best
More light truck options:  Nissan NV200EV, Smith Electric, EV Fleet makes pickup sized vehicles, Via Motors makes the VTrux
Autonomous vehicles have all been electric
Vehicle to grid - decentralize storage and demand response

Q: battery upgrades?  Tesla is offering one for earlier Roadsters.
Yes but Nissan has changed the size of the battery bay which may require chemistry advances and may be some aftermarket suppliers too.
Q:  Critical business models?
Tesla did it right - start with luxury for quicker returns, attracting influencers and early adopters, corporate sales and direct marketing
Q:  Five person car?
Nissan and Tesla both have family sized cars and utility vans (Nissan).  Not yet light trucks.
Q:  Pull a trailer?
Hybrids also don't pull trailers.  Not sure why
Q:  Coal burning for electricity?
Electric cars use 1/4 of the energy to do the same thing and the grid is getting greener.  Coal is more costly than alternatives.

VeloMetro trial is happening in Vancouver this summer.  Human power, solar electric hybrid vehicle, less than 200 pounds.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

City to City: Mobility - Iceland to Boston

3/12/15
MIT

Over 60 communities in Iceland district heated, moving to electrification of transportation rather than hydrogen economy now.

Vern Global:  100% renewably powered data center. Iceland geothermal and with wind at 40% efficiency as opposed to 7% in EU, the second most reliable grid in the world (after Germany?)

Dagur Eggertsson, mayor of Reykjavik:  first public school connected to district heating in 1930 and whole city by the 1970s, now also producing electricity.  Coal phased out by 1967.  23% of energy use in transportation and produces most of their ghgs.  As much a car culture as US.

David Keith, Sloan School, studying adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.  Turnover of vehicle fleet is painfully slow, each vehicle lasts about 16 years in Iceland. New tech adoption is socially contagious - the more sold, the more will be sold.

Vineet Gupta, Boston city transportation:  1/3 of the city is 18-45, 60% of all trips are by foot or bike.  4000 electric vehicles in MA. Half of the public land in Boston are streets and sidewalks.  Infrastructure for on-demand transportation.

Ryan Chin:  electrification, sharing systems, autonomy for transportation.  Singapore is a case study. 300,000 cars could provide the whole 5.4 million people with transport within 20 minutes as shared vehicles.
Bjorgvon Sigurdsson, national electric company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun - all of the electricity produced in Iceland 100% renewable and largest producer of electricity per capita (Norway is second).  Producing methanol as green fuel.

Wolfgang Gruel, Daimler:  car2go - easy car sharing system, now in 29 cities in 8 countries.  Moovel - a platform to simplify mobility, map your trip and buy tickets for the journey.

Einar Gudmundsson, Arion Bank:  business accelerators - Startup Reykjavik and Startup Energy, 54 startups so far.

Q: how to manage the transition?
Small experiments that can fail until something works.

RC: energy will be more distributed and microgrids
DE:  competitiveness is all about the quality of life

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Envisioning the Energy Future

Envisioning the Energy Future was an event held from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at the conference center of the Federal Reserve Bank across from South Station in Boston.  The conference was hosted by the Acadia Center, formerly ENE, Energy Northeast and brought together practitioners from Denmark and all over NE to share their expertise.

The morning panel was on  "Utility in the future," moderated by Abigail Anthony, Acadia Center 

Nathan Adams, Green Mountain Power
Tim Woolf, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc
Jonathan Schrag, Guarini Center (NY)
Peter Rothstein, New England Clean Energy Council

Jonathan Schrag - will distributed generation be as green as RGGI?  Market-based initiatives are driving the marketplace. They are looking at things like Priceline for an open marketplace structure, at least in NY.  Brooklyn doing an innovative demand management project.

Current state microgrid projects can drive grid and regulatory modernization.  Focus on what you want the grid to do rather than particular technologies.

Peter Rothstein - more than 10% of the largest cleantech companies in the world in MA, over 80,000 soon to be 100,000 people employed in the state in this sector.  More than 10% of ARPA-E grants in MA, many in storage. How do you get utilities to invest in new technologies, in an environment where they now spend .2% on R & D, about a tenth of what industry in general spends. RD&D - demonstrations to develop workable business models.  Third parties are going to be a major party to future developments.  Change the model to one more like telecom which anticipates the customers' next needs.  The innovations will need to serve both customers and provide value for the grid.


Tim Woolf - it may be harder to get the regulators to change than the utilities.  Performance based rate making - UK's RIO (sp?) is one example and require strict performance standards.  Demonstrates a shift to outcomes.  Performance based mechanisms are a way to proceed - track and report, target setting, rewards and penalties.  Each of these measures can stand alone or combined.  There are pitfalls in terms of uncertainty of outcomes and unintended consequences as well as gaming and manipulation.  Collecting data is a no regrets policy that can be implemented now.


Nathan Adams - changing grid model, customer value, use local resources.  Moving to a network leveraging distributed marginal pricing.  Most people don't want to deal with real time pricing but technology can do it for them.  Third parties to create value for utility, customers, and the third parties.  NY, CA, MA are now leading in policy reform.  Pilot microgrid project in Rutland to build the model - frequency regulation, solar ramp smoothing , islanding with automation to follow by Fall after summer installation.  Storage through a solar/battery -  battery 4MW - 2.5 MW solar.  Over 200 controllable water heaters.  Hardest challenge is to engage customer appliances without inconveniencing customers.  Change the utility capital model - cap revenue to drive efficiency;  turn grid into platform business so that the market creates prices not regulators.  Frequency regulation market ISO-NE is initiating is a good step forward.


Over lunch, Klaus Veslov, of Oestkraft (http://oestkraft.dk), the municipal utility on the Danish island of Bornholm spoke about "The Ecogrid EU Project in a Strategic Perspective" (http://ecogridbornholm.dk)


Danish is wind first with solar and biomass and a full electrification of infrastructure, exchanging energy with Sweden, Norway, and UK (UK connecting with Iceland).  Storage is a problem and they can't make a business case for hydrogen on any terms.  Danish political and social consensus is going to renewables quickly.

Bornholm - bright green island, 100% fossil free by 2025, as a business case.  80% renewables now with a lot of problems with solar intermittence balanced by coal and diesel.  Population is 45,000 and has become the national test site for new energy systems with municipalities, companies, and universities participating.  2000 households in the Ecogrid, about 4000 people, with lots of green building, energy efficiency, geothermal, and electric vehicles.  From consumers to prosumers.  First stage from 2011-2015 with a proposal for Ecogrid 2.0. Now there is overproduction of wind. Household investments in air to water heat pumps with district heating.  Reversing market system for peak shaving and educating customers to use energy when it is being produced, running demand backward - grid demands energy from distributed resources. Participants are not being motivated by money because there isn't much economic benefit yet.  Automating about 1200 households with energy controls. 2 hours of training per participant at their demonstration Villa Smart house but voluntary demand response lasts for only about 30 days.

Leveling the Playing Field for Distributed Energy Resources

Scudder Parker, VT Energy Investment Corp
Amy Boyd, Acadia Center
Fran Cummings, Peregrine Energy
Jim Grevatt, Energy Futures Group
Kerrick Johnson, VELCO

Amy Boyd - skyrocketing transmission costs in NE, higher than the rest of the US.  Define reliability needs rather than transmission needs to bring non-wire alternatives into the picture earlier.  Regional entities don't pay for non-wires, the states pay for it on their own.


Jim Grevatt -  NY case study for ConEd on energy efficiency as an alternative to transmission and distribution costs.  They realized they did not have to build the projects that were deferred through efficiency.  2013 heat wave spurred them to greater action.  Brooklyn Queens project is $200 (?) million, 85% residential.


Fran Cummings - RI National Grid on solar PV as a distributed resource in Tiverton and Little Compton.  Found that orienting solar to the west rather than due south for more value to the grid in peak shaving and distribution.  Solar is a better distribution resource than expected.

Pecan Street project in Austin, TX - a neighborhood energy initiative.

Kerrick Johnson - VT case study, a transmission company, 2010-2013 deferred $400 million transmission through alternatives. Only 4% of that benefit was to VT ratepayers as opposed to regional ratepayers. Transmission returns on a state by state level can benefit the state's ratepayers to the detriment of regional ratepayers.

NB:  IBM came up often in terms of data and controls both here and on Denmark.  Energy smart cities are halfway to smart cities.

The Role of Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Resources to Reduce Price Pressures in the Energy System

James Howland, Acadia Center
Jeremy Newberger, national Grid
Jeff Schlegel, Schlegel and Associates
Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine Trust
Eric Wilkinson, ISO-NE

Jeff Schlegel -  Energy efficiency as demand reduction, lowering price volatility but the multiple values of the efficiencies are disaggregated based upon the regulations and pricing. Adjust peak times closer to reality, now 11am to 3pm.  No longer any winter peak capacity numbers in ISO-NE.

NB:  Different peaks for different flows:  peak demand, peak solar and renewables supply, peak system efficiency

Eric Wilkinson - the vast majority of energy efficiency has been in lighting.  ISO-NE wants to see new interconnection standards so that a blip in transmission does not result in taking a large chunk of PV offline due to automatic shutdown.


Jeremy Newberger -  RI has an energy efficiency focus.


Michael Stoddard - ME energy efficiency through Efficiency Maine Trust statewide, about 2.7 cents per kWh (?) to save energy.  Boothbay project replaced about $16 million of transmission with $6 million of non transmission resources within six months. Boothbay is using some of the fishery industry freezers as energy storage.


Even MA, most efficient in the US for the last 5 years, lags in terms of energy efficiency compared to Europe.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Creating Renewables Micro-Utiliies

2/6/15
MIT
Justin Buck, Cambrian Innovation
jbuck@cambrianinnovation.com
http://www.cambrianinnovation.com

Modular, turn-key waste water to energy systems using electrically active microbes.  The amount of energy in waste water is proportional to the BOD level. 

Uses exo-electrogenic organisms like geobacter and shewanella.  Geobacter is efficient and shewanella can operate in a wider variety of circumstances (a generalist).
They can build microbial fuel cells using waste water as a fuel.

Cambrian is looking at water treatment, electricity generation, and information from the flow through the system.

Ecovolt - world's first bioelectrically enhanced waste water treatment system, a biogas producer which can remove more BOD from water than traditional methods and produce more biogas.  Does not yet deal with heavy metals and pollutants like benzene.  A primary treatment system that removes soluble BOD, provides heat through hot water, biogas, and electricity.  Payback from less than a year to three years.  20,000 gallons per day per module.  Working on a WEPA - water energy power agreement.  The electricity comes from burning methane.

Scaling is the most difficult thing.