Sunday, May 18, 2014

Connecting the Next Three Billion

Vanu Bose, Vanu Inc - software based radio

Some areas  are not economically viable for wireless coverage
Clayton Christenson:  you want to compete where there's no competition - go to the markets which are not being served
6.6 billion SIM cards in 2012 but people have multiple SIM cards, 10% are inactive, 45% have wireless today - Wireless Intelligence are the only people who do the market research correctly
4.5 billion toilets in the world
Over 2 kW per cell tower power requirements using traditional tech
$1-3 per month for poor rural customer account for company
But cell phones boost rural productivity:  10% penetration = 1.6% productivity increase
$200,000 to build each cell tower and 7000 gallons of diesel fuel per year to power them plus the transport costs of fuel to each tower which may be more fuel than running the tower equipment
In Zambia in one village people four hours from coverage have cell phones but one person with a truck takes the phones and drives to the coverage area to collect the messages on the phones and brings them back - once a day usage
Vanu Inc:  100W equipment, outdoor mountable, small size and weight, remotely maintainable - frugal engineering
In developing world, gsm wifi is the answer rather than 3G or 4G.  India has a 3G network but only 5% use it.  It allows for both voice and data.
Compact - gsm and wifi hot spot using 65w so it can use solar.  Performs up to 65 degrees C.  
$3-5 per month to charge cell phone
Vnode - 250w solar cell system with a cell phone charging system at the base and low maintenance Lithium ion batteries.  15 meter towers not 200 foot
Business model is a wholesale network - they provide the coverage but individual cellular companies provide the service and pay them by transmission traffic:  Vanu Africa and on Facebook
Africa:  274 million have no cellular coverage and 214 million have no power
Coverage within half mile of roads is good enough
Launching in Nigeria and Cameroon this year, building the network and negotiating with carriers for roaming charges

Q:  the growth demand for electricity and data?
We'll see but can also install pure power nodes
Towers pay off in 2 years with 500 people

So far, 2 nodes in Zambia

Greenlight planet in solar is the first in India to do light and phone charging.  People want phone charging now before lighting

Vanu also working in Nepal and did remote phone networks in Vermont

Ice Sheets and Sea Level: Is the Long Tail Attached to a Dragon?

Richard B Alley, Penn State

No giant methane belches from under ocean gaseous methane as we warm the world
6 meter sea level rise is less than Greenland ice sheet loss
0.98 meter maximum rise by 2100 in 2013 IPCC report
Other estimates tend to be higher (Alley has compiled most of the sea level rise estimates)
8 years to rise an inch now (0.6 mm per year since 1992)
Glaciers behind Larson B ice shelf now moving 8 times faster after the ice sheet broke up
Warming the ocean 1 degree C melts ice sheets by up to 10 meters
West Antarctic's Thwaites Glacier may be doomed (and there are East Antarctic glaciers which may be in the same situation)
Glacial cliffs crumble over 100 meters in height
West Antarctica ice sheet is 10 feet of ocean rise in its entirety
Greenland ice loss is 7.3 meters of sea level rise

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Seth Flaxman, Turbovote
Christina Garmendia, OpportunitySpace
Mat Morgan, ShoutAbout
Gaurav Keerthi, The Dialectic

SF:  democracy where everyone votes with as much information as they need.  Turbovote from Democracy works allows people to sign up once in their life and they get all the information you need to stay registered and to vote in all your local elections.  US is the only country where voting is on the county rather than the national level.  Now working on a system to help counties with their end of the voting system.

CG:  OpportunitySpace helps governments look at their real estate holdings and manage them.  First step is inventory as most don't know all their holdings.  In five cities - Louisville Kentucky and four Rhode Island, including Pawtucket and Providence. What is good real estate management for governments?
MM:  ShoutAbout works with news sites to share links to learn more and take action on the issues written about in the news.
GK:  TheDialectic has not launched yet to make comments and online debate more productive.

online idea town hall

Connected Congress
connecting Members and staff of Congress with tech leaders

The Dialectic
designing a better comment system

tools to help governments manage their real estate holdings

crowdsourcing data on democratic innovations from around the world

online tool to connect news readers with relevant non-profit organizations

helps you register to vote, stay registered, and vote in all your elections

Clean Energy in 2050

Peter Rothstein, NE Clean Energy Council

Development is happening most rapidly at the state and regional level
A new framework for renewables needed now to go from 5% to 25%
Energy efficiency at 1% per year
Carbon at 45% below target from 2006
Decoupling of energy and emissions from economic growth as energy costs, through efficiency and renewables, have come down
Renewables, efficiency, innovation, electricity system, carbon
Only energy resources in NE are renewables but must be cost effective.  By 2025, 15% renewables 50% gas
RPS [renewable portfolio standard] does not extend beyond 2020 and may not meet the needs of renewables growth acceleration - a regional strategy for interconnection and net metering (modest connection fee?)
City by city solarize bulk buying and installation should go regional
Utility scale is mostly wind in VT and ME with a competitive market
Efficiency is state by state, in MA it is half a billion $ per year run through utilities to MassSave.  Need to go beyond 5 year payback and new funding.  Only 1% of opportunities done per year.  CT was the first with a green bank and now NY is following. A regional green bank?
2000 saw 1% of venture capital in cleantech, peaked about 25% and has now declined to 15% but much more is needed over a longer timeframe.
10% of ARPA-E projects have gone to MA and MA has the Clean Energy Center to fund new tech as do ME, RI, and NY through NYSERDA. How can utilities become partners in this process?
Redesigning the electrical system is a discussion that has only just started.  MA DPU began about a year and a half ago with an order for grid modernization plan by June - pricing signals, distributed energy, smart grid.... Making the demand side competitive.  A reliability service.  NY also starting on this process now.  Utilities devote less than a quarter of 1% for R and D.
RGGI [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] is in nine states and been in operation for four years and redesigned the price signal a year or so ago as the price dropped very low.  EPA regs will be a spur to lowered carbon emissions in other states.  An expansion of RGGI possible.  A regional carbon tax?  RGGI states have had faster economic growth, lower energy bills, and reduced carbon than other states.
The cleantech challenge is the length of time from invention to market.