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Borrego Solar on SREC Funding and Tips for Talking With Banks | Greentech Media

Borrego Solar on SREC Funding and Tips for Talking With Banks | Greentech Media | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two things distinguish the just-announced $64.4 million funding from U.S. Bancorp (USB) and National Consumer Cooperative Bank (NCCB) for Borrego Solar's commercial-scale installations.

 

“It is one of the biggest funds ever closed in Massachusetts,” said Borrego CFO Bill Bush, “and, because Massachusetts is a Solar Renewable Energy Credit [SREC] state, it is a vote of confidence for this relatively new SREC market.” The fund will support the construction of eighteen megawatts of solar across eight sites.

 

NCCB will provide debt funding. U.S. Bancorp and Borrego Solar, as equity partners, will own the projects and share the 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) and accelerated depreciation. Municipalities, a school district, and other participants will get reduced electricity prices.

 

In Massachusetts’ SREC market, unlike in a production-based per-kilowatt-hour rebate incentive system, Bush said, solar systems’ kilowatt-hours earn SRECs which are auctioned to utilities and others in need of satisfying renewables, solar and emissions mandates.

 

NCCB’s participation, Bush said, “relies primarily on the sale of these certificates and demonstrates,” he explained, that “a bank took a look at the market and said they believe in it and they believe the projects will be able to generate adequate cash flow to pay back what they underwrote.”

 

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What a quarter-century of Internet growth looks like, underwater | WashPost.com

What a quarter-century of Internet growth looks like, underwater | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As folks in the industry like to say, the Internet is a network of networks. To help get Web traffic from here to Britain or China, you need lots of companies with lots of money to build lots of wires to carry that data. And all those fiber optic cables run across the ocean floor, where they have to survive cold, currents, pressure and the occasional snagging by passing vessels or damage by earthquake.


Since 1989, the world has built 5.3 million miles' worth of underwater cabling. By 2017, we're expected to have completed nearly 850 separate cables across the globe. Two of these are partly owned by some of the biggest Internet companies in the world, Facebook and Google. The marketing firm Builtvisible took all this public data and turned it into an interactive map (not to mention a, well, deep history of underwater Internet cables). Here's what 25 years of Internet development looks like, in 1 GIF. (And here, by the way, is how you fix a damaged underwater cable.)


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Don't cry for Box and Dropbox: Amazon's real targets are Google and Microsoft | GigaOM Tech News

Don't cry for Box and Dropbox: Amazon's real targets are Google and Microsoft | GigaOM Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It’s fair to ask how Amazon Web Services’ new Zocalo service will affect Box and Dropbox, but I’m not certain AWS had them in mind while building its new file-sharing service. Those two companies have been around for quite a while, they have their use cases, and they’ve survived numerous challenges big and small over the years. They’ll very likely survive Zocalo, too.


I think Amazon has its eyes firmly set on Google and Microsoft, its two biggest rivals in the fight to own cloud computing. They won’t say it publicly, but I think all three of these companies view each individual customer as a zero-sum game, and AWS has realized that its huge lead in the cloud infrastructure business doesn’t apply across the board. The cloud is about platforms, and AWS’s platform is incomplete.


Servers? Check. Storage? Check. Databases? Check. File-sharing? Uh, …


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Group Representing Half A Billion Christians Will No Longer Invest In Fossil Fuel Companies | AddictingInfo.org

Group Representing Half A Billion Christians Will No Longer Invest In Fossil Fuel Companies | AddictingInfo.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Perhaps recalling the parts of the Bible in which God asks that his followers be good stewards to the Earth, the World Council of Christians, a global coalition of 345 churches, representing 590 Million Christians, moved to no longer invest in oil, gas, or coal companies and urged their members to follow their lead.


Sandwiched in between other administrative and organizational decisions about how to go forward, the WCC tackled the organization’s responsibility to the environment.


“The committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the WCC does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels.”


The move is the biggest one yet by Christian groups attempting to reconcile the damages that climate change is causing with their beliefs to serve the planet well.


In a statement sent from its meeting in Geneva, the group strongly condemned the rampent burning of fossil fuels and its effects on the environment:


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UK Leaders Look To Sneak Through Broad Data Retention Bill With No Debate | Techdirt.com

UK Leaders Look To Sneak Through Broad Data Retention Bill With No Debate | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Remember last year when the UK loudly rejected an attempt by the government to create a "Snooper's Charter" that would give the government much more power to sniff through everyone's private data? This was the law David Cameron insisted was needed based on crime dramas he watches on TV (how do these people get elected?).

You may also recall that, earlier this year, the European Court of Justice found that the EU's Data Retention Directive was invalid as a breach of "the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data." Just a few weeks ago, we noted that the UK government had told telcos to ignore that ruling and to carry on retaining people's data. It appears that telcos told the UK government to pound sand, and David Cameron and his friends are now using that as an opportunity to rush through a version of the Snooper's Charter, requiring internet companies to retain data.

Member of Parliament Tom Watson raised the alarm about this yesterday, detailing how the government was trying to rush through a broad bill in near secrecy:


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Why Google's Waze Is Trading User Data With Local Governments | Forbes.com

Why Google's Waze Is Trading User Data With Local Governments | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In Rio de Janeiro most eyes are on the final, nail-biting matches of the World Cup. Over in the command center of the city’s department of transport though, they’re on a different set of screens altogether.


Planners there are watching the aggregated data feeds of thousands of smartphones being walked or driven around a city, thanks to two popular travel apps, Waze and Moovit.


The goal is traffic management, and it involves swapping data for data. More cities are lining up to get access, and while the data the apps are sharing is all anonymous for now, identifying details could get more specific if cities like what they see, and people become more comfortable with being monitored through their smartphones in return for incentives.

Rio is the first city in the world to collect real-time data both from drivers who use the Waze navigation app and pedestrians who use the public-transportation app Moovit, giving it an unprecedented view on thousands of moving points across the sprawling city. Rio is also talking to the popular cycling app Strava to start monitoring how cyclists are moving around the city too.

All three apps are popular, consumer services which, in the last few months, have found a new way to make their crowdsourced data useful to someone other than advertisers. While consumers use Waze and Moovit to get around, both companies are flipping the use case and turning those millions of users into a network of sensors that municipalities can tap into for a better view on traffic and hazards. Local governments can also use these apps as a channel to send alerts.

On an average day in June, Rio’s transport planners could get an aggregated view of 110,000 drivers (half a million over the course of the month), and see nearly 60,000 incidents being reported each day – everything from built-up traffic, to hazards on the road, Waze says. Till now they’ve been relying on road cameras and other basic transport-department information.


What may be especially tantalizing for planners is the super-accurate read Waze gets on exactly where drivers are going, by pinging their phones’ GPS once every second. The app can tell how fast a driver is moving and even get a complete record of their driving history, according to Waze spokesperson Julie Mossler. (UPDATE: Since this story was first published Waze has asked to clarify that it separates users’ names and their 30-day driving info. The driving history is categorized under an alias.)


This passively-tracked data “is not something we share,” she adds. Waze, which Google  bought last year for $1.3 billion, can turn the data spigots on and off through its application programing interface (API).


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Obtained Emails Show NSA Officials Knew In Advance Of GCHQ's Plans To Destroy The Guardian's Computers | Techdirt.com

Obtained Emails Show NSA Officials Knew In Advance Of GCHQ's Plans To Destroy The Guardian's Computers | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last year, in a move simultaneously symbolic, thuggish and completely futile, GCHQ officials forced The Guardian to destroy computers "containing" Snowden documents. The fact that the documents were also housed elsewhere (including at two American newspapers) mattered little. The point was simple: we can get to you. In the service of "national security," the GCHQ came down on the journalistic entity with something straight out of the Running A Dictatorship For Fun And Profit handbook. Exact words deployed: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write more."

NSA officials notably refused to comment on the GCHQ's actions, perhaps hoping critics would view the silence as disapproval or, at the very least, pointedly not condoning the hardware destruction. The White House publicly condemned the destruction, stating that it was "hard to imagine" this sort of thing happening domestically. That was just the PR front, apparently. Documents obtained by the AP show that NSA officials and administration staff were not only notified in advance of the GCHQ's plans, but also offered their support of this action.


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Pope Francis a Powerful Voice For Climate Change Action | DeSmogBlog.com

Pope Francis a Powerful Voice For Climate Change Action | DeSmogBlog.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, has taken a very strong stance recently on the need to address climate change, to protect the environment and respect “God's creation.” 


In an address at the University of Molise in Italy, Pope Francis talked about deforestation practices that have destroyed much of the world's rainforests in places like the Amazon Basin.


Francis told the crowd that:


“When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land … that can longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to give us what she has within her.”


When it comes to climate change, these rainforests are very important and act as large “carbon sinks” breathing in the world's greenhouse gas emissions and storing them for a very long time. When these rainforests are cut down and burned to make way for things like massive industrial cattle farms, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere and the ability for that rainforest to absorb more greenhouse gas literally goes up in smoke. 


Earlier this year Pope Francis made the biblical case for the need to address climate change, warning Catholic followers that they must, “Safeguard Creation. Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”


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Net-zero energy test home ends year-long study with surplus energy | GizMag.com

Net-zero energy test home ends year-long study with surplus energy | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Braving a harsh winter with snow-covered solar panels, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) in Washington DC has come up trumps in a year-long study of its energy harvesting capabilities. Located on campus at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), researchers used computer simulation to replicate the energy consumption of a family of four. At the end of its first 12 months, there was a large enough surplus to power an electric car for 1,440 miles (2,317 km).


The 2,700 ft sq (252 sq m) two-story construction was developed to look like a regular home, but function as a laboratory for clean energy research. Much like the Honda Smart Home, NIST's effort combines stable ground temperatures with geothermal systems to minimize heating and cooling loads throughout the building. Another factor in overall energy efficiency is a doubling of insulation levels, sealed by special sheeting that reportedly heals itself when pierced.


"The most important difference between this home and a Maryland code-compliant home is the improvement in the thermal envelope – the insulation and air barrier," says NIST mechanical engineer Mark Davis.


On July 1 2013, the research team began the experiment by moving a virtual family into the home. A computer simulator syndicated the energy consumption with that of a typical American family of four, the inhabitants going about everyday activities such as taking showers, watching TV and charging laptops. There was more at play than a life-sized game of The Sims, however, with the researchers able to gain realistic insights into the energy efficiency and how viable planting such a home into a real-life American neighborhood could be.


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Nuclear startups reimagine atomic energy | The Boston Globe

Nuclear startups reimagine atomic energy | The Boston Globe | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

To most people, the outlook for nuclear power wouldn’t seem bright. The Fukushima disaster in Japan three years ago increased public resistance to the industry. Cheap natural gas is undercutting its competitiveness. Aging nuclear plants around the country, including Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vt., are shutting down.


But into this bleak environment come two startups with roots at MIT hoping to revive an industry that has long struggled to make a comeback. Their technologies aim to solve issues that have bedeviled nuclear power for decades: safety, cost, and radioactive waste.


Transatomic Power, a three-person firm sharing incubator space at the Cambridge Innovation Center, is designing a reactor that would be cheaper than coal and generate electricity from spent fuel rods — aka radioactive waste — piling up in the nation’s nuclear plants. UPower Technologies is developing a miniature atomic power plant that would be cheaper and cleaner than diesel generators used in remote locations.


Despite the political, economic, and technical challenges facing the industry, these companies, and handful of other startups, are betting that the increasing urgency of climate change will mean a bigger role in the energy mix for emissions-free nuclear power.


Last week, in an alarming report known as the National Climate Assessment, a panel of scientists concluded that climate change, accelerated by the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas, is already having serious effects. Many parts of the nation, including the Northeast, are experiencing them in the form of violent storms, increased flooding, extended droughts, and severe wildfires.


“Traditional environmentalists might shudder at this,” said Richard Lester, head of MIT’s department of nuclear science and engineering, “but our students see themselves as able to respond effectively to the climate change threat by devising cheaper, safer nuclear-generated electricity. That’s what’s motivating them.”


Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie got the idea for Transatomic as students at MIT, where they studied nuclear engineering. They saw the potential for nuclear to supply large amounts of electricity without producing greenhouse gases that raise global temperatures.


The pair decided to focus on improving the safety of power plants by doing away with water. Fuel rods are submerged in water and heat from the uranium fuel is converted into steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity. After a few years, however, the metal assemblies that hold the rods must be removed, even though only about 5 percent of the energy content is used.


Nuclear plants also rely on water to cool reactors in case there’s a need for a rapid shutdown. In the Fukushima disaster, pumps that circulate water to the reactors lost power, leading to dangerous overheating and core meltdowns.


Instead of water, Transatomic’s design uses salt. Uranium is dissolved in a tank of molten salt, meaning there are no metal assemblies to damage. As a result, the fuel can stay in the core for decades until nearly all its energy is extracted.


This technology, Transatomic added, could recover the remaining energy from spent fuel rods stored in US nuclear plants — more than 70,000 metric tons, enough to cover a football field about seven yards deep.


With the molten salt approach, the plant could cool itself without pumps, according to Transatomic. The salt and fuel in the core would simply drain to a containment tank, slowing the heat-producing nuclear reaction and freezing solid in the tank within a few hours.


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The Fifth Surveillance: Corporate Spying On Non-Profits | Techdirt.com

The Fifth Surveillance: Corporate Spying On Non-Profits | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In the age of innocence that was brought to an end by Edward Snowden's revelations, we broadly knew of three kinds of surveillance: the classic kind, by countries against other countries; the industrial kind, by companies against companies; and -- the most recent addition -- the Google/Facebook kind, carried out by companies against their customers. Snowden made us aware that countries also carried out large-scale surveillance against huge numbers of their own citizens, the vast majority of whom had done nothing to warrant that invasion of their privacy. But there's a fifth kind of surveillance that has largely escaped notice, even though it represents a serious danger for democracy and freedom: spying carried out by companies against non-profit organizations whose work threatens their profits in some way.


A new report called "Spooky Business" (pdf), from the Essential Information organization (founded by Ralph Nader in 1982), throws some much-needed light on this murky world:


The corporate capacity for espionage has skyrocketed in recent years. Most major companies now have a chief corporate security officer tasked with assessing and mitigating "threats" of all sorts -- including from nonprofit organizations. And there is now a surfeit of private investigations firms willing and able to conduct sophisticated spying operations against nonprofits.


As the study reveals, this kind of activity is now commonplace:


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Tesla's chargers now moving a gigawatt hour of electricity a month | GigaOM Clean Tech News

Tesla's chargers now moving a gigawatt hour of electricity a month | GigaOM Clean Tech News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

There are now enough Tesla Model S electric cars — as well as the company’s electric car chargers that keep them going — out there driving on the roads of the world that a substantial amount of electricity is being delivered by Tesla’s chargers. Tesla said in a blog post this week that its fast chargers delivered 1 gigawatt hour of electricity to Model S cars in the month of June.


For comparison’s sake 1 GW is about enough electricity to power around 700,000 American homes. The Hoover Dam has about 2 GW of capacity. (My bad that’s not a fair comparison) So pushing half a Hoover Dam of capacity through Tesla chargers into the batteries of Model S cars is no small potatoes.


Tesla plans to ship 35,000 Model S cars by the end of 2014, and it delivered 22,477 in 2013. So by the end of 2014 there will be well north of 50,000 Model S cars charging and discharging energy into millions of lithium ion batteries throughout the day and night.


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WorldwideAlliances's curator insight, Today, 3:55 AM

Now I like this idea better than burning hydrogen gas. I had no idea there were so many electric cars on the road now. Bet the gas companies are fuming (pun intended hah!)

 

I would definitely get an electric car if possible. Won't be long before they're shipped everywhere I guess. Who else would love to own an electric car? Sure would miss the roar of a V8 gas engine though. They should probably add a digital recording to an electric car for the rev heads out there. It's just not right when you put the pedal to the metal and all you get is this ssshhhhhhhhhhh! LOL

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Two-faced Sharifi-ha House changes shape on demand | GizMag.com

Two-faced Sharifi-ha House changes shape on demand | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Based in Tehran, the Sharifi-ha House by Iranian architectural firm Nextoffice is a luxurious home by anyone's standard. The seven-floor residence boasts an elevator, swimming pool, and a sizable gym. More interestingly, it also features three rooms which resemble large wooden boxes and sit upon operable rotating platforms.


Sharifi-ha House was completed in 2013 and comprises a total floorspace of 1,400 sq m (15,000 sq ft). Given its size and unusual design, the layout of the house is complex, and a glance the architectural plans in the gallery are worth checking out for a more complete idea on how it's put together.


The two basement floors contain the gym and leisure facilities, which include a billiard table, while the ground floor consists of parking space and the housekeeper's quarters. The first and second floors feature communal family spaces including the kitchen, lounge, television room, and a piano area. Finally, the remaining floors include bedrooms, private bathrooms, and additional kitchen and lounge areas.


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Bold pathways point to a low-carbon future | Climate News Network

Bold pathways point to a low-carbon future | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists often hesitate to give a cut-and-dried, yes-or-no answer when asked how serious climate change is going to be, and whether the world can still escape significant damage.


Surprisingly, perhaps, a report prepared for a UN conference in September is unequivocal. Yes, it says − the worst is not bound to happen.


The good news is that the world can keep climate change within what are thought to be acceptable limits. The less good news is that while it is possible, it certainly won’t be easy.


The report shows how the countries that emit the most greenhouse gases (GHGs) can cut their carbon emissions by mid-century to prevent dangerous climate change. Prepared by independent researchers in 15 countries, it is the first global co-operation to identify practical pathways to a low-carbon economy by 2050.


The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP) report is an interim version prepared for the UN Climate Summit to be held in New York on 23 September. The full DDPP report will be ready in the spring of 2015.


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O3b Networks Aims To Connect Emerging Markets To High Speed Internet | Forbes.com

O3b Networks Aims To Connect Emerging Markets To High Speed Internet | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Yesterday, an Arianespace Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana. On board were four satellites – and a dream to connect the entire world to the Internet. That, at least, is the stated goal of O3b Networks.


The “O3b” in the company’s name is actually an acronym – it stands for the “other 3 billion” people with limited or no access to high speed internet. That’s the market that the company aims to reach with its constellation of satellites.


The problem with connectivity in many emerging markets is simply the high cost of installing fiberoptic cable, which is the backbone of the Internet in most areas.


“The capital required to build fiber into many of these rural locations is quite prohibitive,” Balan Nair, CTO of Liberty Global (one of O3b’s investors) told me. “O3b solves this issue, and has a footprint that can be amortized over a large geography with underserved demand.”


There are satellite internet providers now, but currently, the major disadvantage of satellites is its high latency –  the time it takes the signal to travel to the satellite and back. That latency prevents a lot of the web from functioning, and it exists because those satellites are located in geostationary orbits over 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.


To get around this problem, O3b is placing its constellation of satellites at much lower orbit over a swathe of Earth that covers most emerging markets.


“If you bring New York closer to Washington, you bring the travel time down,” said O3b CEO Steve Collar. “It’s the same with satellites.”


Moving the satellites closer to Earth solves the latency problem, but it does raise other issues. For example, the satellites can’t be geostationary at those orbits, so they each have two movable antennae to ensure a strong signal. And rather than one or two satellites, the company has a constellation of eight now in orbit (the first four were launched last summer). The convenience of their orbit, though, means that if demand grows, can keep putting satellites up. Indeed, the company already plans to put four more satellites in orbit early next year.


So far, though, the technology has proven itself. Tests that the company has run on the four satellites that have been in orbit since June have shown latency rates that rival those of fiberoptic cable. It also successfully carries LTE and 4G traffic to support mobile internet traffic for its customers.


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The European Commission Wants High Speed Broadband Everywhere. But Is It Worth It? | Forbes.com

The European Commission Wants High Speed Broadband Everywhere. But Is It Worth It? | Forbes.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Here in Europe, we are usually keen to  depict ourselves as a developed, technologically advanced region. We love to quote Copenhagen, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, as leading models for aspiring “smart cities” of all over world. However, this is only part of the picture.


Side by side with the Europe of urban conglomerates and shiny districts, there is the Europe of the countryside, of small town and villages where time seems to have stopped and everything is slower, Internet access included.  According to official figures, only18% of European rural households have access to high-speed broadband.


Not a staggering figure indeed, when you consider that over 56 % of the population in the 27 Member States lives in rural areas. Even in cities, conditions are not always outstanding. Investment in broadband networks is falling short and overall only 64% of EU households have available 30 Mbps and just 3% have connections of 100 Mbps.


A far cry from the goals set by the European Digital Agenda: to have 100% of EU households with at least 30 Mbps broadband and 50% households with access to 100 Mbps or more by 2020.


That’s why the European Commission is launching today the Connected Communities initiative, which aims at identifying and supporting a number of innovative pilot projects for deploying high speed broadband across the Union.


The initiative, the Commission said in a note, “will map potential European broadband projects, and identify the most mature ones, which will be prioritized for “technical assistance” services under the Connected Europe Facility (CEF), in partnership between the European Commission and the World Bank”.


“Technical assistance”, translated from the language of Brussels’ bureaucrats here stands for help in developing a business model, advice on the forms of financing available, and on the legal aspects involved, especially for what concerns state aid screening, as the Commission has defined special rules to assist in the granting of state aid for broadband in ways that do not harm competition.


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Canada's Supreme Court rules against First Nation on logging | Mining.com

Canada's Supreme Court rules against First Nation on logging | Mining.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that Ontario's government has the right to allow commercial logging on a tract of First Nations' traditional land.


A defeat for the Grassy Narrows First Nation, the 7-0 decision means the province does not need Federal permission to take up treaty land for forestry and mining. That bodes well for companies such as Goldcorp Inc (TSX:G) (NYSE:GG), which operates Canada's largest gold mine in the same region as the land in the logging dispute.


Resource firms had closely monitored the case in the wake of the court's game-changing ruling in June that recognized the claim of British Columbia's Tsilhqot’in Nation to aboriginal title. A crucial difference is that BC had no treaty with the Tsilhqot’in, whereas Ontario did have one with Grassy Narrows.


But Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the decision that "Ontario’s power to take up lands under Treaty 3 is not unconditional."

In a statement, the Assembly of First Nations expressed its disappointment with the decision.


"We are dismayed that the Supreme Court failed to recognize the First Nations' understanding of Treaty 3 including First Nations' jurisdiction over this territory," Perry Bellegarde, who holds the treaty portfolio for the AFN, was quoted as saying.

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Waiting for Dark: Inside Two Anarchists’ Quest for Untraceable Money | Threat Level | WIRED

Waiting for Dark: Inside Two Anarchists’ Quest for Untraceable Money | Threat Level | WIRED | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Amir Taaki and Cody Wilson are cruising north through Texas on Interstate 35 in the 4:30 am predawn darkness. One of the headlights on the aging BMW Wilson’s driving is burned out, and he’s wearing sunglasses. “They’re prescription,” he says drily.


It’s May Day, every anarchist’s favorite holiday, and the two 26-year-olds have marked the occasion by releasing a piece of software that represents their best attempt so far to undermine every government in the world. A call from a lawyer friend has reminded them that creative US prosecutors might hit them with conspiracy or other charges. So they’ve decided to skip town.


Half an hour earlier, they pulled out of Wilson’s apartment in Austin and began the long nighttime drive to Dallas, where Wilson has booked Taaki a last-minute flight to Barcelona. Taaki has friends there living in a squat in an abandoned police station. Wilson himself plans to lay low in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. A 29-year-old Canadian friend, cryptographer Peter Todd, is riding along in the back seat.


Not far into the drive, I see Wilson fiddling with something near the gearshift, and he explains that he’s just removed the battery from his cell phone to prevent its being used by police to track him.


In the passenger seat, Taaki, who doesn’t even own a working cell phone, just laughs. The diminutive Iranian-Brit sports a black mustache and what can properly be described only as a mullet. He seems to be treating his sudden escape from the US as an exciting adventure. But Wilson, a square-jawed southerner with a trim beard, displays something closer to paranoia. “What are the chances we’ll make it through the next three hours without being pulled over by the cops?” he asks. No response.


Concerns about the police are justified for Wilson and Taaki, who have dedicated their careers to building some of the most controversial software ever offered to the public. Wilson gained notoriety last year as the creator of the world’s first fully 3D-printable gun, a set of CAD files known as the Liberator that anyone can download and print in the privacy of their home to create a working, lethal firearm. Taaki and his collaborators recently unveiled a prototype for a decentralized online marketplace, known as DarkMarket, that’s designed to be impervious to shutdown by the feds.


The programming provocation they released a few hours ago is called Dark Wallet, a piece of software designed to allow untraceable, anonymous online payments using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Taaki and Wilson see in bitcoin’s stateless transactions the potential for a new economy that fulfills the crypto-anarchist dream of truly uncontrollable money.


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US Judge Not Impressed By Ross Ulbricht's 'But Bitcoin Isn't Money' Defense | Techdirt.com

US Judge Not Impressed By Ross Ulbricht's 'But Bitcoin Isn't Money' Defense | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht's attorneys had recently seized on some debate within the US government over whether or not Bitcoin was actually money to try to sneak through a loophole to get out of the money laundering charges against him.


As you may recall, the IRS recently declared that virtual currency was more akin to equity/property than money. And Ulbricht's lawyers hoped that distinction might help. It did not. The judge clearly wasn't buying it:


[T]he defendant alleges that he cannot have engaged in money laundering because all transactions occurred through the use of Bitcoin and thus there was therefore no legally cognizable "financial transaction." The Court disagrees. Bitcoins carry value - that is their purpose and function - and act as a medium of exchange. Bitcoins may be exchanged for legal tender, be it U.S. dollars, Euros, or some other currency. Accordingly, this argument fails.


Later in the ruling, the judge goes even further:


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Why were this company's computers attacked millions of times this year? Algae. | WashPost.com

Why were this company's computers attacked millions of times this year? Algae. | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

About 16 months ago, a Florida-based biofuel company called Algenol noticed that its Internet service was slowing down. In checking that out, Jack Voth, Algenol’s information technology chief, stumbled on something odd: a telnet connection to its videoconference camera from an Internet Protocol address in China, a country where Algenol has never sought to do business.


That was only the beginning. Ever since, Algenol has been on high alert for what Voth describes as “nefarious activity;” the company estimates that hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year, triple the level of a year earlier.


The most serious of these were more than 63,000 attempts that came directly from China, including 6,653 attempts over 15 months from IP addresses and servers that Algenol says are the same as the Peoples’ Liberation Army addresses identified in a public report by Mandiant, a leading computer security firm.


Another Internet trail led Algenol to Aliyun Computing, the cloud computing subsidiary of Alibaba, one of the most powerful online commerce and retail giants in China. Interest in the company is running high because it is set to launch what may turn out to be the largest initial stock offering in U.S. history. Alibaba says Algenol mischaracterized ordinary Internet traffic as attacks.


What makes a small company in Florida so interesting to cyberspies? Algae.


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Drought Drains Lake Mead to Lowest Level as Nevada Senator Calls for Government Audit | EcoWatch.com

Drought Drains Lake Mead to Lowest Level as Nevada Senator Calls for Government Audit | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As the largest reservoir in the U.S. falls to its lowest water level in history, Nevada State Sen. Tick Segerblom introduced a bill title and issued a press release on July 8 calling for an “independent scientific and economic audit of the Bureau of Reclamation’s strategies for Colorado Rivermanagement.”


Sen. Segerblom’s position represents the growing political impatience with the current management system for the river. He takes hard aim at the Bureau of Reclamation as being responsible for these problems as he says, “Reclamation may have played a major role in erecting our Colorado River infrastructure, but it’s clearly time for people across the basin to begin leading its future management.”


Further, the Senator calls for a more environmentally minded management focus on the health of the river as stated in his press release: “Healthy rivers signal healthy societies, yet Reclamation failed to mention ecological issues in its recent analysis. The Colorado River is a river of national parks, but the river running through them is struggling.”


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Aussietank stores water for dry spells, collapses for storage | GizMag.com

Aussietank stores water for dry spells, collapses for storage | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Learning from Australia’s arid climate and recent struggles with drought, the Aussietank was developed to aid households in times of dry periods and water restrictions. The collapsible and portable water tank comes flat-packed in three different sizes and has recently become available to the USA market. It could help households hit by the North American drought to harvest water without the expense of permanent water tank installation.


"The main inspiration behind the Aussietank was to create a DIY water tank that can be easily transported and if needed emptied and relocated with ease," managing director of Aussietank, Alastair Pryor tells Gizmag. "We wanted to create a cost effective way for water harvesting so that any household could afford our products."


The Aussietank is made from a flexible marine grade PVC shell that connects to a tubular zinc-plated steel frame and features a protective cover. No tools are needed to construct the tank and each kit comes with a DIY instruction booklet. The Aussietank can collapse back down and be stored away during the winter season or for when it is next required.


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Jury gives full defense verdict to Apple, swats down $511M patent demand | Ars Technica

Jury gives full defense verdict to Apple, swats down $511M patent demand | Ars Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Following a two-week trial in San Jose, California, a jury reached a verdict (PDF) Friday afternoon finding that Apple doesn't infringe a patent own by Emblaze, an Israeli company that sued Apple back in 2010.


While the outcome is a clear victory for Apple, the jury declined to invalidate US Patent No. 6,389,473, titled "Network Media Streaming," which Emblaze said was infringed by Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol. That protocol has been built into Apple products, including iPhones and iPads, since iOS 3.0 was released in 2009.


Emblaze accused several HLS-powered streams in Apple devices, including streaming video used by ABC News, ESPN, and sports services like the Professional Golf Association, Major League Baseball, and National Football League. The company also accused Apple Keynotes and the iTunes Festival. The jury didn't find any of the services infringed.


During trial, Emblaze's lawyers argued that it should get $511 million for Apple's infringement, for the period up to June 2013.


Emblaze used this same patent to sue Microsoft in 2012, and that case continues to move forward in the same court. An Emblaze official didn't respond to a request for comment via e-mail.


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Elon Musk just donated $1 million to the new Tesla museum | DailyDot.com

Elon Musk just donated $1 million to the new Tesla museum | DailyDot.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The idea for a Nikola Tesla museum first reared its head back in 2012, when Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman found out that Tesla’s laboratory was in danger of being razed to make room for commercial real estate. 


Since then he’s raised over $1.3 million on Indiegogo and bought the property where Tesla’s lab was located.


Earlier this year he had the bright idea to tweet Elon Musk asking for help in building the eventual museum. After all, Elon Musk’s name is synonymous with “eccentric billionaire,” and part of that wealth is a direct result of the electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors.


Who better to ask for help in bringing the original Tesla’s work to the masses?


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Australia: This house in the desert keeps itself cool and generates its own power GizMag.com

Australia: This house in the desert keeps itself cool and generates its own power GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A house built in the demanding environment of Alice Springs, Australia, has been honored by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Dunn and Hillam's Desert House was designed to withstand the extreme desert conditions while remaining energy efficient. The AIA cited the project's "genuine sensibility to environmental management in this specific climate."


Dunn and Hillam was asked by its clients to design a house that would allow them to make the most of living in Alice Springs, taking into account its climate and spectacular scenery. The clients requested that the house engage with the surrounding landscape, that it provide multiple places to be use depending on the time of day and weather, and that it minimize energy usage.


In tackling the brief, Dunn and Hillam said it took an approach of "hardcore pragmatism and innovation, respect for the landscape and context and a belief in doing things better for the future." The house is cut into the rock and uses the thermal mass of the rock to regulate its internal temperature.


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WorldwideAlliances's curator insight, Today, 3:49 AM

I would seriously love to build a totally self-sufficient house using solar, wind and whatever else.

 

But of course it won't be anywhere near Alice Springs. The Aussie desert is too harsh for a wuss like me ~lol

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Sandia's Daniel Dedrick examines potential for hydrogen fueling infrastructure | GizMag.com

Sandia's Daniel Dedrick examines potential for hydrogen fueling infrastructure | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Hydrogen fueled vehicles, such as Toyota's FCV and Hyundai's Tuscon Fuel Cell, face a chicken or egg predicament: consumers are rightfully hesitant to invest in such vehicles if they don't have a convenient way to refuel them, and energy companies don't want to cough up dollars for costly infrastructure without significant numbers of such vehicles on the road. But a study by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories says that more existing gas stations in California could readily integrate hydrogen fuel than previously thought.


The fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic liquid form are covered by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) hydrogen technologies code. Under the previous code requirements established in 2005, no existing gasoline stations could readily accept hydrogen.


However, this code was developed for flammable gases in an industrial setting and not hydrogen fuel at a fueling station, which poses different risks. In response to this, a new code, known as NFPA 2, was published in 2011.


Focusing on California, which already has the largest number of hydrogen fueling stations of any US state, the Sandia study determined that, based on the current code, 14 of the 70 commercial gasoline station examined could readily accept hydrogen fuel, while another 17 could do so with property expansions.


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WorldwideAlliances's curator insight, Today, 3:45 AM

Compressed hydrogen gas? Scares the hell out of me especially in a moving vehicle! Reminds of the Hindenburg disaster. Yes I know, safety standards today are far better, blah, blah, blah. I just think there must be a safer fuel than hydrogen.

 

It might be just me with unreasonable fears about cars hurtling around the neighborhood filled with highly explosive gases. Whatever!