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Canada: Alberta lobbies for Keystone XL in New York Times ad | CBC.ca

Canada: Alberta lobbies for Keystone XL in New York Times ad | CBC.ca | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Alberta government, continuing to press its case for the Keystone XL pipeline, took out an ad in Sunday’s New York Times newspaper, tying the controversial project to core American values and to U.S. pride in its military.

 

The half-page ad is headlined “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason.”

 

It acknowledges the validity of environmental concerns, but stresses the $7-billion pipeline is about much more than that.

 

“America’s desire to effectively balance strong environmental policy, clean technology development, energy security and plentiful job opportunities for the middle class and returning war veterans mirrors that of the people of Alberta,” reads the $30,000 ad.

 

“This is why choosing to approve Keystone XL and oil from a neighbour, ally, friend, and responsible energy developer is the choice of reason.”

 

Stefan Baranski, a spokesman for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, said the ad was taken out to counter a New York Times editorial that ran a week ago urging U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the 1,800-kilometre TransCanada line.

 

“It’s important for Alberta to get the facts on the table as widely as possible,” said Baranski.

 

“Certainly the Sunday Times is a critically important audience to speak to, and I think Alberta has a good track record, a very good story to tell, and it’s important that we’re out there telling that story at this very critical time.”

 

Obama is expected to decide the fate of the pipeline in the next few months.

 

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TX: Fracking To Resume In Denton After State Prohibits City Fracturing Bans | Jim Malewitz | KERA News

TX: Fracking To Resume In Denton After State Prohibits City Fracturing Bans | Jim Malewitz | KERA News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Nearly seven months after voters made it the first Texas town to ban hydraulic fracturing, Denton is poised to be fracked again.

Vantage Energy plans to resume fracking operations at eight gas wells in the North Texas city on June 1, the Colorado-based operator has told city officials, and it plans to frack at least eight more wells later in the year – flouting the town’s seven-month-long ban on the controversial technique of blasting apart shale to bolster petroleum production.

But the city won’t stand in the company’s way, Denton officials announced Friday, saying a new state law – House Bill 40 — forbids them from enforcing the ban.

“The hydraulic fracturing ban has, in our opinion, been rendered unenforceable by the State of Texas in HB 40,” the city said in a news release. “The City of Denton, however, will continue to regulate other surface activities related to drilling operations per our existing oil and gas well drilling ordinance.”

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law on Monday, pre-empting all local efforts to regulate a wide variety of drilling-related activities.

Intended to clarify where local control ends and Texas law begins, HB 40, which cruised through the Legislature, was the most prominent of the flurry of measures filed in response to Denton’s vote to ban hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

Nearly 59 percent of voters supported the ban last November, though oil and gas interests vastly outspent the ban’s backers.

There are rumblings about town that some Denton residents — unhappy with the city’s decision to stand down — plan to protest around the Vantage well sites, but Cathy McMullen, a home health nurse who organized the push against fracking, said she did not blame city officials.

“Really, their heart’s in the right place," she said. “They’re upset about it, but there’s just nothing they can do.”


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The current weather extremes in Texas are climate change’s calling card | Clara Chaisson | onEarth.org

The current weather extremes in Texas are climate change’s calling card | Clara Chaisson | onEarth.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported last Thursday that Texas was finally free of extreme drought. After five debilitating dry years, it was great news. But what the weekend then brought—torrential rainfall and flash flooding that left at least 17 dead and numerous people missing in Texas and Oklahoma—seemed like a very cruel joke (one that still isn’t over). By yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott had declared disasters in 37 counties.

El Niño is partially to blame for the soaking, because its warm waters drive rain in the southern United States. But this oscillation between extreme dry and extreme rainfall is also indicative of climate change. As Eric Holthaus of Slate reports, “A steadily escalating whipsaw between drought and flood is one of the most confident predictions of an atmosphere with enhanced evaporation rates—meaning, global warming.”


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Rwanda hosts the Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds Forum | Marc Mcihone | AfricaBrains.net

Rwanda hosts the Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds Forum | Marc Mcihone | AfricaBrains.net | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

This year’s Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds (USF) forum has brought together Government Ministries, policymakers, regulatory authorities, telecom providers, international organizations, Universal Service Fund Managers and other broadband stakeholders from all over Africa in Kigali for a 3-day forum from 6-8 May 2015.

The Intel forum hosted in collaboration with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT will have a special focus on the broadband implementation plan in various African countries, as well as challenges and solutions to obstacles in program development, implementation and operations.

The Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana speaking to the press stressed that “Rwanda is one of largest broadband adopters on the continent; we are here to learn about what is it we can do to further accelerate the growth of ICT uptake and impact also how we use ICT to drive ICT for entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Ralph Corey, Director within the World Ahead Program at Intel says, “as the world becomes more dependent on information and communication technology (ICT), broadband Internet access and usage is increasingly becoming recognized as essential to economic growth and the provision of education, healthcare, and other basic services. Despite this growing acceptance however, developing countries continue to struggle to find affordable and sustainable ways to provide widespread access to digital devices and broadband connections, especially in rural and remote areas.”

“USFs play an important role in the transition of developing countries to full broadband-enabled societies. This primarily includes the transformation of education systems through technology, and sustained job creation in industries that benefit from having access to information and global markets,” says Corey.


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Obama Drills a Hole in His Climate Policy | Eugene Robinson | Truthdig.com

Obama Drills a Hole in His Climate Policy | Eugene Robinson | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Here are two facts that cannot be reconciled: The planet has experienced the warmest January-through-March on record, and the Obama administration has authorized massive new oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

“Climate change can no longer be denied ... and action can no longer be delayed,” President Obama said in an Earth Day address in the Everglades. Indeed, Obama has been increasingly forceful in raising the alarm about heat-trapping carbon emissions. “If we don’t act,” he said in Florida, “there may not be an Everglades as we know it.”

Why, then, would the Obama administration give Royal Dutch Shell permission to move ahead with plans for Arctic offshore drilling? Put simply, if the problem is that we’re burning too much oil, why give the green light to a process that could produce another million barrels of the stuff per day, just ready to be set alight?

Please hold the pedantic lectures about how the global oil market works: Demand will be met, if not by oil pumped from beneath the Arctic Ocean then by oil pumped from somewhere else. By this logic, the administration’s decision is about energy policy—promoting U.S. self-sufficiency and creating jobs—rather than climate policy. The way to reduce carbon emissions, according to this view, is by cutting demand, not by restricting supply.

But we are told by scientists and world leaders, including Obama, that climate change is an urgent crisis. And on the global scale—the only measure that really matters—the demand-only approach isn’t working well enough. More than two decades after the first international summit on climate change, carbon emissions have continued to rise steadily.


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The anatomy of a flooding disaster in Wimberley, Texas | Andrew Freedman | Mashable.com

The anatomy of a flooding disaster in Wimberley, Texas | Andrew Freedman | Mashable.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The town of Wimberley is located on some of the most beautiful land in all of Texas known as Texas Hill Country, which was named for the rolling hills and gentle creeks that comprise the landscape.

“It’s a great location, if you don’t want to go to one of the beaches here in Texas it really is one of the best getaway locations in Texas,” says Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dallas.


To meteorologists like Murphy, though, Texas Hill Country is known by another name: "Flash Flood Alley." This area is the most flash flood-prone in the state, and among the most flood-prone areas in the country.

Much like other flash flood-prone communities across the country,
the geography in this region can rapidly transform the rivers and creeks in Hill Country into raging tidal surges of water, mud and debris that is capable of taking out entire homes, businesses, roads and bridges.

This is what happened on Saturday night into Sunday morning, when an extraordinary downpour dumped about 6 inches of rain upstream in just four hours upstream of Wimberley, along the Blanco River, the water ran off the hillsides that were already saturated from weeks of heavy rainfall.


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Sen. Mary Landrieu, After Pushing for Keystone XL, Joins TransCanada Lobbying Firm | Lee Fang | The Intercept

Sen. Mary Landrieu, After Pushing for Keystone XL, Joins TransCanada Lobbying Firm | Lee Fang | The Intercept | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The law firm Van Ness Feldman announced today that former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who lost her reelection bid last year, will be joining the company to help run its lobbying division and focus on energy issues.

Landrieu joins the firm after pushing aggressively for energy-related policy goals that overlapped with Van Ness Feldman’s clients. In November of last year, Landrieu helped force a vote to approve the Keystone XL, the controversial tar sands pipeline owned by Transcanada, a firm represented by Van Ness Feldman.

Landrieu also worked to expedite the approval of liquified natural gas export terminals, another contentious issue. Landrieu sponsored legislation to expedite the LNG approval process and specifically pushed for individual projects, including the Sempra Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana. Van Ness Feldman has a large practice on LNG issues and lobbied for approval of several LNG export terminals, including the Sempra facility touted by Landrieu.

“I am proud to join Van Ness Feldman,” Landrieu said in a statement released by the firm. “I have always respected the firm and worked closely with them during my 18 years in the Senate,” she noted. “Their substantive and sophisticated approach to important public policy issues in the areas of energy, the environment and natural resources was a major factor in my decision-making process.”


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Biotech Giant DuPont-Pioneer Found Guilty of Pesticide Contamination | Paul Towers | AlterNet.org

Biotech Giant DuPont-Pioneer Found Guilty of Pesticide Contamination | Paul Towers | AlterNet.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Chalk up another win for the little guy. A handful of residents of Kauai’s Waimea community recently prevailed in court over biotech giant DuPont-Pioneer. Citing extensive, harmful dust generated by DuPont’s seed operations, a jury awarded 15 residents $500,000 in damages.

This is just the latest in an impressive string of victories against pesticide and genetically engineered (GE) seed corporations in Kaua’i, the global epicenter for GE seed testing.

Why the lawsuit? Picture red (pesticide-contaminated) dust blanketing your house and yard, regularly blowing over from neighboring fields, leaving you unable to open your windows or leave your home. That’s what residents of this lower-income community of color have faced for years, and that's what ended up spurring litigation.

While the judge directed attorneys to focus only on impacts to physical property, it’s hard to ignore the health effects of pesticides drifting through the air or contained in dust blanketing homes. According to court documents, the pesticides sprayed by DuPont in Kaua’i have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, birth defects, disruption of the endocrine, immune & nervous systems, liver damage and more.

Lawyers for the case note that several dozen more Waimea residents may yet come forward to seek awards.


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President Obama asserts power over small waterways | Timothy Cama | The Hill

The Obama administration on Wednesday asserted its authority over the nation's streams, wetlands and other smaller waterways, moving forward with one of the most controversial environmental regulations in recent years.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers said they are making final their proposed waters of the United States rule, which Republicans and many businesses have long panned as a massive federal overreach that would put the EPA in charge of ditches, puddles and wet areas.

“We’re finalizing a clean water rule to protect the streams and the wetlands that one in three Americans rely on for drinking water. And we’re doing that without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all previous exemptions and exclusions,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.

McCarthy and other Obama officials sought to emphasize that the rule is about increasing clarity for businesses and helping make it easier to determine which waterways are subject to the pollution rules of the Clean Water Act.

“This rule is about clarification, and in fact, we’re adding exclusions for features like artificial lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions from constructions and grass swales,” she said

“This rule will make it easier to identify protected waters and will make those protections consistent with the law as well as the latest peer-reviewed science. This rule is based on science,” she continued.

With the Wednesday action, the Obama administration is doubling down on an effort that has sustained repeated attacks from congressional Republicans hoping to overturn the regulations.


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Canada: Power from Site C dam ‘dramatically’ more costly than thought: expert | Justine Hunter | The Globe and Mail

Just weeks before BC Hydro plans to begin construction of the $8.8-billion Site C project, a new report says the Crown corporation has dramatically understated the cost of producing power from the hydroelectric dam.

The Peace Valley Landowners Association (PVLA), which is opposed to the project because of the flooding from creating an 83-kilometre reservoir on the Peace River, commissioned a leading U.S. energy economist, Robert McCullough, to look at the business case for what will be the province’s most expensive public infrastructure project.

The B.C. government approved the project last December, saying it is the most cost-effective option to meet the province’s future electricity needs. But the province has steadfastly rejected calls for an independent review of the cost estimates for Site C, saying the costs have been rigorously scrutinized and verified by independent contractors, the Ministry of Finance and an outside accounting firm.

Mr. McCullough, in his report, said it appears the Crown corporation BC Hydro had its thumbs on the scale to make its mega project look better than the private-sector alternatives.

“Using industry standard assumptions, Site C is more than three times as costly as the least expensive option,” Mr. McCullough concluded. “While the cost and choice of options deserve further analysis, the simple conclusion is that Site C is more expensive – dramatically so – than the renewable [and] natural gas portfolios elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.”


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EU regulators misunderstand big data | Joshua New Opinion | ComputerWorld.com

EU regulators misunderstand big data | Joshua New Opinion | ComputerWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Some European Union regulators reportedly are concerned that major Internet companies such as Google and Facebook gain an unfair competitive advantage from the detailed consumer data they hold, since other companies can never hope to amass anywhere near as much of it. In addition, some regulators worry that with less competition, these data-rich companies will disregard their customers’ privacy preferences and become more invasive.


Not only are these regulators wrong, but by mistakenly classifying big data as anti-competitive and anti-consumer, they risk driving European companies away from the most productive uses of data, which would harm the competitiveness of European businesses and limit the potential consumer benefits.

Unlike most other business inputs, data is not a finite resource. One company’s use of consumer data does not preclude another company from developing tools to collect and use the same or similar information.


One company cannot feasibly monopolize consumer data since consumers freely enter into a wide range of product and service agreements that allow myriad other companies to access to their data.


For example, Facebook’s data set is undoubtedly robust, yet many other organizations, including other social networks, dating sites, insurance companies, retailers and universities, build tools to collect similar data. Thanks to the Internet, barriers to collecting data have never been lower.

While some companies certainly have a head start on data, an advantage with data is no different than an advantage with any other key business input. Just as companies are not anti-competitive because they invest heavily in research and development, companies are not anti-competitive because they invest heavily in collecting data. Neither does having more data than anyone else ensure that market leaders will remain dominant.


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Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com

Over 4 billion people still have no Internet connection | Mikael Ricknas | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The number of people using the Internet is growing at a steady rate, but 4.2 billion out of 7.4 billion will still be offline by the end of the year.

Overall, 35.3 percent of people in developing countries will use the Internet, compared to 82.2 percent in developed countries, according to data from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). People who live in the so-called least developed countries will the worst off by far: In those nations only 9.5 percent will be connected by the end of December.

This digital divide has resulted in projects such as the Facebook-led Internet.org. Earlier this month, Facebook sought to address some of the criticism directed at the project, including charges that it is a so-called walled garden, putting a limit on the types of services that are available.

Mobile broadband is seen as the way to get a larger part of the world’s population connected. There are several reasons for this. It’s much easier to cover rural areas with mobile networks than it is with fixed broadband. Smartphones are also becoming more affordable.

But there are still barriers for getting more people online, especially in rural areas in poor countries.

The cost of maintaining and powering cell towers in remote, off-grid locations, combined with lower revenue expected from thinly spread, low income populations, are key hurdles, according to the GSM Association. Other barriers include taxes, illiteracy and a lack of content in local languages, according to the organization.

At the end of 2015, 29 percent of people living in rural areas around the world will be covered by 3G. Sixty-nine percent of the global population will be covered by a 3G network. That’s up from 45 percent four years ago.


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Audi claims first synthetic gasoline made from plants | Eric Mack | GizMag.com

Audi claims first synthetic gasoline made from plants | Eric Mack | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Just weeks after producing its first batch of synthetic diesel fuel made from carbon dioxide and water, Audi has laid claim to another synthetic, clean-burning and petroleum-free fuel called "e-benzin." The fuel was created by Audi's project partner Global Bioenergies, in France.

In late 2014, Global Bioenergies started up the fermentation unit for a pilot program to produce gaseous isobutane from renewable biomass sugars such as corn-derived glucose. Gaseous isobutane is a sort of raw material for the petrochemical industry that can then be refined into a variety of plastics, fuels and other applications.

The next step in the process was to run the material through a conditioning and purification process, allowing it to be collected and stored in liquid form under pressure. Some of it was then sent to Germany to be converted into isooctane fuel, creating a pure, 100 octane gasoline.

"To me this is a historic moment," says Global Bioenergies CEO Marc Delcourt. "It is the first time that we have produced real gasoline from plants."


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Texas Governor Greg Abbott: Deadly Flooding Is 'Absolutely Massive' | Jim Forsyth | HuffPost.com

Texas Governor Greg Abbott: Deadly Flooding Is 'Absolutely Massive' | Jim Forsyth | HuffPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday described the flash flooding that had killed at least three people in his state as "a relentless wall of water that mowed down huge trees like they were grass."

Abbott declared states of disaster in 24 counties and flew over the area south of Austin to assess the damage caused by tornadoes, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and flooding that forced evacuations and rooftop rescues and left thousands of residents without electrical power.

"This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen," Abbott said.

"It is absolutely massive - the relentless tsunami-type power of this wave of water," the governor said.

He described homes that were "completely wiped off the map" by the dangerous weather system that struck Texas and Oklahoma.

Widespread severe thunderstorms were forecast to continue on Monday in north-central and northeast Texas and southern Oklahoma, likely bringing destructive winds, tornadoes and hail, the National Weather Service said.


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Scientists trace cancer-causing chemical in drinking water back to methadone | Nsikan Akpan | PBS News Hour

Scientists trace cancer-causing chemical in drinking water back to methadone | Nsikan Akpan | PBS News Hour | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Like death and taxes, at some point in life, drinking someone else’s human waste becomes inevitable.

When water flows from the many pipes of our homes, the first stop is a wastewater treatment factory, where most hazardous chemicals and microbes are removed. In an ideal scenario, city planners have geographically positioned wastewater facilities so that none of the drainage flows into another’s city’s drinking water supply. But if you live downstream from any population, then you’re likely drinking someone’s wastewater, says Arizona State University environmental engineer Paul Westerhoff.

Enter methadone. Methadone is the latest member of an infamous club. Like birth control hormones and the antibacterial ingredient triclosan, methadone leaks into waterways and poses a health risk when it filters into our drinking water, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

But unlike some forms of pharmaceutical pollution, the danger of methadone waste doesn’t come from the drug itself, but from a chemical reaction with a common wastewater disinfectant. The product of this reaction is the carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine or “NDMA” for short. The World Health Organization describes NDMA as “clearly carcinogenic” due to its ability to cause stomach and colon cancer after ingestion.


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'Sleeper' ransomware laid dormant on victim PCs until this week | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

'Sleeper' ransomware laid dormant on victim PCs until this week | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A new strain of ransomware that had laid dormant on infected devices suddenly "woke up" at midnight on Monday, May 25, security firm KnowBe4 said in an alert issued today.

Ransomware encrypts all the files on the devices it infects and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key to give the content back to the original owner.

KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says this new strain of malware, dubbed Locker, is "very similar to CryptoLocker," the first successful modern form of ransomware that was released in late 2013 and was thwarted last year. Locker is a "sleeper" strain of malware, meaning that victims may have unintentionally downloaded it earlier, but that their devices were not encrypted until the ransomware was activated earlier this week.

PC help site Bleeping Computer has seen hundreds of reported Locker victims worldwide already, and believes it has a large installed base, KnowBe4 said in its alert. Sjouwerman says some reports indicate that the ransomware could have originated in a "compromised MineCraft installer."

Once Locker encrypts an infected device's files, it issues a warning against users and IT professionals who might try to find another way around paying the ransom:

"Warning any attempt to remove damage or even investigate the Locker software will lead to immediate destruction of your private key on our server!" the notice reads.


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Global mobile broadband market sees vast majority of Indian users finding 2G unaffordable | Companies & Markets

Global mobile broadband market sees vast majority of Indian users finding 2G unaffordable | Companies & Markets | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Indian 2G mobile broadband market customers feel that the technology is far too expensive, with 88% of users agreeing. A further 53% do not find that 2G mobile broadband actually adds any value to their device.


Ericsson Consumer Lab recently discovered Indian mobile broadband preferences, with the company finding a number of major issues and challenges that are preventing a major area of the global mobile broadband market from growing at the fastest rate.

"When consumers are confident in their understanding of what is offered, they tend to perceive better value from it. In fact, they consume twice as much data compared to users who find it difficult to understand their plan," according to Ajay Gupta, Vice-President and Head of Strategy and Marketing, Ericsson India. "Understanding the main aspects that are valued by customers can help service providers differentiate their offerings and improve consumer experience which would help increase consumer loyalty. Personalization is being positively viewed and increasingly demanded by consumers."

Many mobile broadband users in India report problems around coverage, especially in urban parts, alongside widespread failures when trying to access mobile smartphone apps that use data. E-commerce is showing major growth in the global mobile broadband market, with the Indian region being no different with 58% of users not currently accessing E-commerce services stating they would do so within six months.

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California Plans to Offer Free Solar Panels to Its Poorest Citizens | Rafi Schwartz | Good.is

California Plans to Offer Free Solar Panels to Its Poorest Citizens | Rafi Schwartz | Good.is | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

While the sun may shine on each and every one of us equally, so far solar power has largely been a much less democratic affair. As solar energy panels become more and more efficient, their application, per a 2013 Center for American Progress study, remains mostly limited to middle-class homes with a median income of between $40-90,000. But a new plan in California will bring free solar power to its poorest citizens, saving each of them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in electrical costs.

According to The SFGate, the initiative will be led by Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit solar power firm based out of Oakland. Using nearly $15 million dollars raised through California’s cap-and-trade laws, which require companies to purchase “credits” for each ton of carbon dioxide they produce, the firm will provide over 1,600 free solar panel systems by the end of 2016, according to a Grid Alternatives release. The program was first introduced by California State Senator Kevin de León, who spoke at a recent solar panel installation event, saying:


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Which Country Will Be First to Go Completely Underwater Due to Climate Change? | Cole Mellino | AlterNet.org

Which Country Will Be First to Go Completely Underwater Due to Climate Change? | Cole Mellino | AlterNet.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

It’s not just low-lying island nations either. “A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet (0.8 and 2 meters) by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast,” says National Geographic. “More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, push sea level rise to 23 feet (7 meters), enough to submerge London.”

VICE’s season premiere this year covered how sea level rise will devastate coastal communities, specifically focusing on Bangladesh, home to more than 150 million people.

And The Miami New Times recently reported that a Dutch sea level expert, Henk Ovink, is calling Miami, Florida “the new Atlantis” because “Miami will no longer be a land city, but a city in the sea.”

Sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion (when water warms up, it rises), melting glaciers and polar ice caps, and ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica — all of which are caused by climate change, according to National Geographic.

Last week, NASA scientists reported that a massive ice shelf in West Antarctica will be gone in a few years. Which raises the question: What happens if all the world’s ice melts? Julia Wilde at Discovery News explains what will happen as more and more of the world’s ice melts.


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T-Mobile activates 900MHz band for LTE in Amsterdam; Utrecht to follow this month | TeleGeography.com

T-Mobile Netherlands (T-Mobile NL) has announced that it has switched on its 900MHz Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Amsterdam, augmenting its existing 1800MHz 4G coverage. The use of 900MHz spectrum is expected to eliminate capacity issues in busy locations, as well as improving indoor coverage.

Going forward, 900MHz 4G will be introduced in Utrecht by the end of the month, with Rotterdam set to follow by mid-June and The Hague in early July. 4G LTE at 900MHz should be offered across the whole of the Randstad (the conurbation consisting of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht and the surrounding areas) by mid-August this year.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, T-Mobile expects to offer nationwide coverage (95% of the population) via its LTE network by October 2015.

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Alaska: Second Largest Island in U.S. Goes 100% Renewable | Laurie Guevara-Stone | EcoWatch.com

Alaska: Second Largest Island in U.S. Goes 100% Renewable | Laurie Guevara-Stone | EcoWatch.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As most Alaskans can attest, energy in The Last Frontier is expensive. The average residential electricity rate of more than 18 cents per kWh is a full 50 percent higher than the national average, ranking among the highest in the country. That’s in part because outside the 50 hydro plants throughout the state, most of Alaska’s rural communities rely on imported diesel for their electricity. But the folks of Kodiak Island (pop. 15,000) in southern Alaska—powered almost 100 percent with renewable energy—have a different story to tell.


Although Kodiak Island, the second-largest island in the U.S., relied on hydropower for 80 percent of the electricity production, it was also burning 2.8 million gallons of diesel per year, at an annual cost of $7 million. In the face of climate change and high electricity costs, the board and managers at Kodiak Electric Association (KEA) set a goal of producing 95 percent of the community’s electrical needs with renewable energy by 2020. They actually arrived there well ahead of time, and are now 99.7 percent renewably powered by wind and hydro.


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Texas's Reckless, Expensive Lack of Flood Infrastructure | Kriston Capps | CityLab.com

Texas's Reckless, Expensive Lack of Flood Infrastructure | Kriston Capps | CityLab.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Houston is buckling down as a major storm sweeps east in Texas. Between Austin and San Antonio, that system has led to the worst flooding in more than 30 years. Aerial footage captured by a drone shows the bucolic waters of Barton Creek in downtown Austin rushing like a raging river.

Central Texas hasn’t suffered a storm this severe since the Memorial Day Flood of 1981, when severe storms in Austin claimed 13 lives and caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage. That year, Shoal Creek surged from a flow of 90 gallons per minute to more than 6 million gallons per minute—one of many rivers that flooded dramatically, as the Austin American-Statesman recalls.

In the three decades since, Texas has done little to secure its floodplains against torrential downpours. At the same time, the population in many of Texas floodplains has skyrocketed—including Hays County, a stretch of fast-growing cities between Austin and San Antonio, where 12 people are still missing after the storm.


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Researchers claim to boost cell-phone battery life with radio signals | Agam Shah | NetworkWorld.com

Researchers claim to boost cell-phone battery life with radio signals | Agam Shah | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Cell phones are constantly transmitting radio signals, whose energy can also be used to boost the battery life of mobile devices.

Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have developed circuitry that converts radio signals from a handset into energy, which is then fed back to the device’s battery. The researchers say the technology can increase the battery life of mobile devices by up to 30 percent.

The OSU researchers are working with startup Nikola Labs to commercialize the technology, which they say can be easily implemented in cell-phone cases, and in June will launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund its continued development.

Nikola Labs pitched the concept of an energy-harvesting iPhone 6 case based on the technology at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference earlier this month. Nikola Labs estimates the case will be priced at $99.

Limitations in batteries have sparked an interest in energy-harvesting technologies to power battery-free wearables, sensors, implants and other devices. Researchers at universities and technology companies are looking for ways to convert body heat, motion, RF signals and ambient light to energy.


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Volvo charges for self-driving car feature that brakes for pedestrians | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com

Volvo charges for self-driving car feature that brakes for pedestrians | Colin Neagle | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Fusion's Kashmir Hill recently contacted Volvo about a (somewhat disturbing) YouTube video purporting to show a test of a Volvo with auto-braking capabilities that ends up running into several pedestrians watching the test. Volvo's response might make the problem worse.

A spokesperson for the car maker told Fusion that the video appears to be testing a Volvo XC60's auto-braking technology, which comes standard in that model. This technology, called City Safety, is designed to identify other cars and objects in front of the car and activate the brakes when traveling below 30 miles per hour, preventing fender benders when cars are in stop-and-go traffic, for example.

But City Safety does not include a "pedestrian detection functionality," which is sold separately, the spokesperson told Fusion. The Fusion report also pointed out that the IEEE has said that pedestrian detection costs about $3,000.

Volvo also claimed that the pedestrian detection feature might not have even worked in the test shown in the video, nor would the City Safety feature – the driver appeared to have been "actively accelerating," which would override the auto-brake features. For what it's worth, the YouTube video description says the driver forgot to even turn on the City Safety feature.


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NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News

NHK and FIFA to hold 8K live public viewings | Robert Briel | Broadband TV News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

NHK will produce 8K (Super Hi-Vision)broadcasts of ten matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

The coverage will include Japan v Cameroon and the final, as joint productions with FIFA, and present most of these as live public viewings at two venues in Japan, two in the US and one in Canada.

Access to the viewing will be free, but prior application is required to participate in these events. Recorded 8K content will be screened at other times when there is no live feed.

The games will be played in the period between Tuesday, June 9 and Monday, July 6.

In the US, the viewings will be held at the NBC Television Network Headquarters, Rockefeller Center (New York, NY) and at the Zanuck Theater (Los Angeles, California). Ub Canadaat the International Broadcasting Center in Vancouver, and in Japan at the Aeon Cinema, Kohoku New Town, Tsuzuki-ku, Yokohama City, and at SKIP City Sai-no-Kuni Visual Plaza (Kawaguchi City).

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The Hole in Brian Potts' WSJ Critique of the "Solar-Panel Craze.” | John Farrell | ILSR.org

The Hole in Brian Potts' WSJ Critique of the "Solar-Panel Craze.” | John Farrell | ILSR.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

In his Sunday Wall Street Journal commentary on May 17, Brian Potts suggests that cost is the bottom line in the electric customer shift to solar, and that rooftop solar costs too much. But his defense of the utility’s view of energy costs leaves a big hole in the big picture: the value of solar energy.

First, his cost estimates don’t add up. He claims utility-scale solar costs 13 cents per kilowatt-hour, but Vote Solar reported that the Palo Alto, CA, municipal utility signed solar contracts for 6.9 cents nearly two years ago. Prices fell 13% in 2014 alone, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The attack on rooftop solar also falls short. The break-even price for a rooftop system in Palo Alto is 10.8 cents over 25 years (calculated with NREL’s System Advisor Model), 50% higher—not 3.5 times higher— than the utility scale solar array. Mr Potts may be right that net metering isn’t the perfect policy for compensating solar producing customers, but that’s because it’s a compromise accounting method to accurately track electricity sent back to the grid. This was done because it is the easiest way for the utilities to accommodate solar with their old meters and antiquated billing systems.

Net metering and Mr Potts both ignore the value of solar energy: to an electric grid that favors energy production in the afternoon and on hot, sunny days; as a zero-volatility fuel source; as a hedge against environmental compliance costs; as a near-zero water consumer in an era of drought. He ignores the numerous state studies that show a net benefit from net metering.

Most notably, Mr Potts ignores the opportunity cost of propping up a dying monopoly business model to fend off innovative entrepreneurs and customers. The rooftop v. utility-scale solar argument is a utility-contrived proxy for their defense of a 20th century model of monopoly control of the utility system.


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