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Japan: Submarine Methane Raises the Stakes | Truthdig

Japan: Submarine Methane Raises the Stakes | Truthdig | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Japan has successfully captured natural gas from deep under the ocean by tapping into methane hydrates, using a new technology that could revolutionize the world’s energy supply. It is the first country to succeed in exploiting the gas.

 

The gas supplies locked into methane hydrates, also known as methane clathrates and “fire ice”, are potentially the largest single source of fossil fuels on the planet and for Japan, a country desperate for its own energy supplies, this could be an economic lifeline.

 

On the other hand, many would regard almost unlimited supplies of a new fossil fuel as bad news in a world where there is already climate change caused by man’s existing excess carbon emissions.

 

The announcement of the successful extraction of methane from underneath the sea floor off the Japanese coast came from the country’s Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry (METI). The tests by the state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) are continuing. It hopes to exploit the technology commercially in a new phase of drilling between 2016 and 2018.


According to the US Oil & Gas Journal, the test well is in 1,000 metres of water off the Atsumi and Shima peninsulas. The hydrate is a further 270 metres below the sea bed in the Nankai trough. 

This is well within economic reach for a pipeline from potential industrial and domestic users in central Japan. The hydrate is basically frozen methane and water, which forms in large lumps under the right temperature and pressure conditions.

 

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IL: From Chicago to small towns, spreading the smart grid gospel | Kari Lydersen | Midwest Energy News

IL: From Chicago to small towns, spreading the smart grid gospel | Kari Lydersen | Midwest Energy News | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The smart meters being delivered to Illinois homes under the state’s 2011 smart grid law could potentially spark significant energy savings – relieving burden on the grid and on power supplies and saving money for residents.

But that’s only if people use the information provided by smart meters to modify their habits, by shifting when they use energy, installing more efficient appliances and the like. Figuring out how to use a smart meter and respond to the data it provides is a complicated and intimidating task for anyone.

It is especially challenging for renters and public housing residents who don’t own their appliances or even pay their own energy bills; or for senior citizens who don’t know how to use the internet; or for immigrants who don’t speak English. And for people in low-income and marginalized neighborhoods in general, beset by violence, decrepit housing, and a lack of well-paying jobs, understanding and modifying energy use is likely to be a very low priority.

The smart grid law mandates that at least 30 percent of the $50 million set aside for public education – or $15 million over 10 years – be spent on educating such “hard to reach populations” during the smart meter rollout, which involves replacing almost four million meters.


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Daimler: “Mmkay, Thanks For The $780 Million, Tesla” | Christopher DeMorro | Clean Technica

Daimler: “Mmkay, Thanks For The $780 Million, Tesla” | Christopher DeMorro | Clean Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Tesla stock prices have come down to more moderate levels in the past few weeks, and Daimler feels it is time to offload its 4% stake in the electric automaker. This stock sale nets Mercedes-Benz’s parent company a $780 million windfall, though it could have been more than twice as much.

See, back in 2009 before the Tesla Model S was even near ready for production, Mercedes parent company Daimler bought a 9.1% stake in Tesla Motors. They later transferred 5.1% of that stake to another company, Arabar Investments PJSC, leaving them as 4% owners of the electric automaker. Thanks to the meteoric rise of its price, that small investment turned into a huge profit, and Tesla also helped with development of the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, which is rated at 87 miles per charge and 84 MPGe.

“We have supported Tesla as a startup company for many years and have learned a lot from Tesla. At the same time, Tesla was able to profit from our automotive expertise. The cooperation with Tesla is one component of our activities in the field of electric mobility,” explained Daimler board member Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber. Earlier reports have also suggested the two companies are moving closer together on EVs.


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MA: Greylock Glen Called 'Win-Win' For Business And Environment | Jim Levulis | WAMC.org

MA: Greylock Glen Called 'Win-Win' For Business And Environment | Jim Levulis | WAMC.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The town of Adams and the state of Massachusetts recently signed a lease agreement for the Greylock Glen, a 1,000-acre area at the base of the tallest mountain in the commonwealth. A $40 million master plan for the space is expected to be a boon to the area’s tourism industry.

The master plan includes two campgrounds, an environmental education center, a conference facility and hiking trails. Adams’ interim town administrator Donna Cesan who is also director of community development, says the Greylock Glen is part of a vision strategy launched by the town years ago.

“We recognized that outdoor recreation and being at the base of the tallest mountain in Massachusetts were strengths,” Cesan said. “We need to exploit those strengths so the Glen will help us do that and help rebuild our economy from a manufacturing economy to a more tourist-based economy.”

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation managed the area before signing it over to the town. The 99-year lease costs Adams $1 a year. Ideas for the Glen have been kicked around for about 50 years with more significant progress in the last 10. Cesan says the town has been frugal throughout, spending $1 million in select permitting and transportation projects to aid development.

“We’ve worked very hard to make the project essentially shovel-ready,” Cesan said. “We have new utilities, a new roadway installed and we’ve done most of the major permitting for the project. So we think this will be more attractive to private entities to make them want to invest.”


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Netherlands: UPC launches Dutch voice/data MVNO | TeleGeography.com

Cableco UPC Netherlands has launched a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) voice and data service, initially offering a range of three SIM-only subscriptions under the UPC Mobile brand.


The company’s press release advertises the monthly-terminable subscriptions as offering the benefit of sharing one bundle with up to four other people at an extra EUR10 (USD12.6) per month per SIM card, with each customer having their own number but sharing the plan and costs.


The operator plans to roll out the service in phases to ‘ensure customer satisfaction’, with UPC Mobile packages currently only available to a select group of consumers, but to be open to UPC’s entire subscriber base by the end of the year, establishing the company as a true quadruple-play operator.

All subscriptions offer unlimited SMS, with the smallest ‘Basic’ subscription costing EUR12.50 per month in return for 100 minutes and 300MB of data; the ‘More’ package is priced at EUR20 per month, providing 400 minutes and 1.5GB of data, and the largest subscription, ‘Endless’, includes unlimited minutes and 4GB data. UPC Mobile offers access to more than 500,000 Wi-Fi spots throughout the Netherlands.


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Vodafone Italy extends LTE network to 2,400 municipalities | TeleGeography.com

Vodafone Italy has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network now covers 2,400 municipalities nationwide, equivalent to around 72% of the Italian population. Of the total, around 400 locations are said to be key tourist destinations.


As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June this year Vodafone announced that it would start deploying LTE technology in 100 new municipalities every month, with immediate effect, enabling it to cover 90% of the population by 2016.

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TeliaSonera and Angola Cables ink IP Transit agreement | TeleGeography.com

TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) and Angola Cables have signed an IP Transit agreement to enhance regional connectivity to TSIC’s customer base along the West African coast using Angola Cables’ submarine cable assets, reports Light Reading.


The enhanced regional access via Angola is aimed at greatly improving internet performance as well as reducing transport costs for global internet connectivity to Western Africa.


Antonio Nunes, CEO Angola Cables, said: ‘Angola is one of the fastest developing economies on the continent and has the potential to become the leading telecoms and technology hub for Africa.’ The latest agreement with TSIC was facilitated by pre-sales and fibre consulting agency AP Telecom.

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Greece: OTE expands VDSL network to over 1.3m homes and businesses | TeleGeography.com

Greece’s main broadband provider, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), has announced the expansion of its VDSL network with speeds up to 50Mbps to a further 105,000 homes and businesses from 1 October, bringing the total coverage to over 1.3 million premises.


The telco’s press release listed 134 areas in 13 regions (prefectures) of mainland Greece and its islands where the latest VDSL expansion took place.


The number of local exchanges and outdoor cabinets offering these higher rates has reached 367 and 2,732 respectively, while OTE targets VDSL coverage of 30% of the population by the end of 2014.

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In One Fell Swoop Obama Announces Solar Jobs For 50,000 Veterans and Takes On Climate Change | PoliticusUSA.com

In One Fell Swoop Obama Announces Solar Jobs For 50,000 Veterans and Takes On Climate Change | PoliticusUSA.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Over the past five years Republicans have opposed any and every attempt by President Obama to jumpstart the economy; particularly when it came to creating jobs. He also made, what Americans concerned about anthropogenic (manmade) climate change believed were, modest proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; that is until he called for a thirty percent reduction in carbon emissions earlier this year. Republicans reacted to that news with their typical fossil fuel industry devotion by launching vicious attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency tasked with ensuring power-generating plants’ comply with the new requirements.

Yesterday, in one fell swoop, the President took decisive action to address both job creation for Veterans and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The White House announced that beginning this fall the United States will launch a six-year job training program for America’s Veterans in the growing solar panel installation industry. Since Republicans have relentlessly obstructed jobs programs for America’s Veterans, the President took it upon himself to enact the program at American military bases and provide job training for at least 50,000 veterans. It is training for about 50,000 more Veterans than Republicans have provided despite several proposals and requests by the President to help America’s fighting men and women returning from war.

The Veterans’ job training program is just one of many initiatives the White House said will reduce carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change by more than 300-million tons, and save American homeowners and businesses billions upon billions of dollars in energy bills. To create even more jobs, as part of the President’s lone crusade to reduce the damaging effects of climate change, the Agriculture Department will spend nearly $70 million to fund 540 new solar and renewable energy projects that will target rural and farming areas. There is also a new Energy Department proposal for stricter efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners the energy department said will cut emissions more than any other efficiency standard it has issued to date, and help businesses cut their energy costs substantially.

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Tristram Stuart: Waging War Against Global Food Waste | Susan Daugherty | National Geographic

Tristram Stuart: Waging War Against Global Food Waste | Susan Daugherty | National Geographic | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Tristram Stuart thinks we should do something revolutionary with food: Eat it.

The British author calls the problem of food waste "scandalous and grotesque" and cites statistics to prove it:

One-third of the world's food is wasted from plough to plate.

The planet's one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment with less than a quarter of the food wasted in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

The water used to irrigate food that ends up being thrown away could meet the domestic water needs of nine billion people.

Until a few years ago, the colossal scale of food waste was largely unaddressed. But Stuart's 2009 book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, and the grassroots initiatives he launched have lifted the topic from obscurity to prominence worldwide.

"We want to catalyze a food-waste revolution one person, one town, one country at a time—helping stop needless hunger and environmental destruction across our planet," he says.


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High-end P.A.T.H. prefab house range promises energy to spare | Adam Williams | GizMag.com

High-end P.A.T.H. prefab house range promises energy to spare | Adam Williams | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

French designer and architect Philippe Starck has joined forces with Slovenian prefabricated housing specialist Riko to manufacture a new line of high-end prefab houses under the moniker Starck with Riko. The Prefabricated Accessible Technological Homes (or P.A.T.H.) range is available in a number of shapes and sizes, and according to the company, can generate significantly more energy than it requires.

Depending on which one of the 34 different floor plans prospective buyers choose from, a P.A.T.H. home can range in size from 40 sq m (1,506 sq ft) to 350 sq m (3,767 sq ft), and feature anywhere between one and eight rooms, spread over one or two floors.

The home can also sport either an all glass outer shell, a combination of wood and glass shell, or fully-wooden shell. Roof type, interior fittings, and cladding can also be further customized to suit, and the sky – or rather the wallet – is the limit. The homes are built to meet the BEPOS energy standard for positive energy buildings, which is backed by the French government.


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First highway with glow-in-the-dark markings opens in the Netherlands | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

First highway with glow-in-the-dark markings opens in the Netherlands | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Drivers on a road in the Netherlands are now being guided by glow-in-the-dark road markings. The N329 in Oss is being used to pilot the concept, which is part of the Smart Highway project by construction firm Heijmans and design firm Studio Roosegaarde. Glowing Lines is aimed at increasing visibility and safety.

The idea for Glowing Lines and the broader Smart Highway project were conceived by Heijmans and Studio Roosegaarde in 2012. The Smart Highway nomenclature is perhaps a little misleading, as none of the concepts that come under its umbrella involve internet connectedness, but they are certainly smart in the sense of being clever. The project is aimed at using different technologies to create the "interactive and sustainable roads of tomorrow."


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Beyond 3D printers and the coming of the home electronics factory | Eric Mack | GizMag.com

Beyond 3D printers and the coming of the home electronics factory | Eric Mack | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

When I saw BotFactory's Squink in action at MakerCon in New York last month, it was one of those innovations that took a few minutes to sink in. It looks like a modified 3D printer, but it does much more. In essence, it is a home factory in a single package.

Unlike most 3D printers, Squink has a detachable head that can be swapped out to allow it to move around its workspace to perform different functions. When I first approached the machine, it was in the process of building a circuit board independent of any human assistance in between steps (besides physically switching out the detachable heads). The machine head was picking up components, then hovering the part over a small camera that identified it and then gave the order for it to be placed on a piece of paper where the Squink had already printed conductive ink and laid down conductive glue to ready it for components.

If a 3D printer puts the power of a CNC mill and a few other machines into the hands of even amateur makers, then Squink could essentially put the power of an entire factory into one small corner of a home office. Forget soldering, cutting, etching or simply waiting forever to get your prototype back from an actual factory. BotFactory, which is a startup that grew out of the relationship between a few NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering graduates and their professor, sees Squink as a way to take the lag out of the traditionally long and laborious process of prototyping electronics.


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Silicon Valley's latest high-tech gadgetry makes sewage water drinkable | John Anderson | GizMag.com

Silicon Valley's latest high-tech gadgetry makes sewage water drinkable | John Anderson | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California’s ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the US$72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water.

According to Hossein Ashktorab, recycled water unit manager at the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the new plant daily produces 8 million gallons of water nearly as pure as distilled water. The advanced system is currently being used to improve the quality of the county’s recycling by treating water from older recycling systems, then blending it back with existing recycled water from the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility.

The process starts by feeding treated wastewater from the city of San Jose through small tubes in a microfiltration unit, made up of thousands of straw-like hollow fibers. The sides of the fibers are lined with extremely fine pores 0.1 micron in diameter, the equivalent of 1/300th the width of a human hair, which filter out solids, bacteria, protozoa and some viruses.

Reverse osmosis is the next step, forcing water under high pressure through membranes with holes small enough for a water molecule to pass through and not much else. Left behind are salts, viruses and such man-made contaminants as pharmaceuticals, personal care products and pesticides – a growing issue for water treatment facilities.


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Nissan, Tesla, And Fiat Sell The Most ZEV Credits In California | Christophen DeMorro | Clean Technica

Nissan, Tesla, And Fiat Sell The Most ZEV Credits In California | Christophen DeMorro | Clean Technica | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

September 30th marked the end of the year as far as the California Air Resource Board is concerned, and the government regulator released its annual list of the top buyers and sellers of Zero Emissions Vehicle credits. While Nissan and Tesla topping the list shouldn’t surprise anybody, Fiat placing in third is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

So wait, what’s a ZEV credit? California forces automakers (based on their sales) to sell a certain number of zero emissions vehicles in order to generate credits; the more ZEVs you sell, the more credits you earn. Companies with a positive credit balance can sell them to other manufacturers who don’t meet the set standard at an undisclosed rate.

The ZEV credit system has helped Tesla turn a profit in the past, but this year Green Car Congress reports that Nissan sold the most ZEV credits, transferring a total of 663.6 credits to other automakers; last year Nissan earned just 25 ZEV credits to sell. Tesla came in a close second with 650.195 credits earned by the all-electric automaker, almost exactly half of what it earned last year. And in a surprising third place is Fiat, which generated some 252 credits through sales of their sole plug-in car, the Fiat 500E. Maybe Marchionne can stop crying about EVs now?


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Successful Tests Prove Electric Cars, Utilities Can Work Together to Avoid Brown-Outs | Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield | TransportEvolved.com

Successful Tests Prove Electric Cars, Utilities Can Work Together to Avoid Brown-Outs | Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield | TransportEvolved.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Listen to some energy advisors and electric car skeptics, and you’ll hear the claim that global energy networks are about to be brought to their knees by poorly maintained electrical grids struggling to keep up with the demand of the electric car revolution. Overwhelmed by the demands of thousands of plug-in cars all trying to charge at the same time we’re told, entire power grids will stop functioning, plunging cities around the world into week-long brown-outs as power companies struggle to keep up with demand.


Luckily, those predictions are looking far less likely than they once did, thanks in part to a smart grid technology demonstration which took place last week in California, where utility companies and automakers demonstrated technology that enables utility companies to control the recharging habits of electric cars in order to ensure brownouts never happen. Combined with an ongoing, successful pilot project in Delaware where a fleet of electric cars are being used to help smooth out the delta between peak and off-peak energy usage, the nightmarish vision of an electrical grid crippled by electric car charging seems less likely than ever before.


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The Simple Reason Behind Why Europe Can Have Climate Targets and the U.S. Can’t | Juan Cole | Truthdig.com

The Simple Reason Behind Why Europe Can Have Climate Targets and the U.S. Can’t |  Juan Cole | Truthdig.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The European Union climate summit has agreed to cut emissions by 40% by 2030, after hard bargaining by Poland and the UK failed to derail an agreement.

The 28 nations of the EU also agreed to improve energy efficiency by 27% over the next decade and a half, and to ensure a continent-wide proportion of at least 27% renewable energy market share.

In contrast, the production of carbon dioxide in the US increased in 2013, from roughly by 2.5 percent at a time when scientists are frantically signaling the need to significantly reduce that output. The US produces about 5.5 billion metric tons of CO2 a year. In 2014, the world crossed the symbolic barrier of 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, up from 270 in preindustrial times. Archeological examination of ice cores that show past atmospheric composition demonstrates that such high levels of CO2 in prehistoric times (then caused by volcanic activity rather than human) were correlated with higher sea levels and a third less land area, with megastorms, and with tropical climates throughout the planet.

US capitalism trumpets itself as efficient and agile, able better to deal with social and political crises than government policy because of the magic of the market. But the structures of markets are themselves produced by government policy, which plutocrats in the US have bought. In fact, US capitalism is acting like an ostrich, hiding from the biggest social and economic crisis — rapid human-caused global warming– that the human species has ever faced.

The Guardian notes that Tony Robson, the CEO of Knauf Insulation, complains that an increase of 27% in energy efficiency over 15 years is just about what people are doing anyway in Europe, where fuel prices are typically higher than in the US. So that isn’t exactly taking climate change as an emergency.

A goal of 27% renewables by 2030 is also not very ambitious. Renewables (including wind, solar and hydroelectric) have produced nearly 28% of Germany electricity this year, and German goals are far more ambitious than the EU overall. Renewables produced 42% of Spain’s electricity in 2013 and it reduced its carbon emissions by nearly a quarter.

Why are even center-right governments in Europe so much better at this than is the United States?


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Taiwanese 4G subscribers reach 1.7 million | TeleGeography.com

Taiwanese operators have signed up a total of 1.7 million 4G subscribers since services were first launched in the country back in May 2014.


According to the Digitimes, which cites figures produced by the National Communications Commission (NCC), the nation’s mobile network operators have applied so far to set up some 12,300 LTE-enabled base stations, and with the regulator having approved the plans for 10,300 of those, around 4,920 are already in operation.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Chunghwa Telecom was the first to market, inaugurating its 4G network in May 2014, while Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile Company launched competing commercial services just a few days later in early June 2014.

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Hungarian ISPs to be taxed per gigabyte? | TeleGeography.com

A draft tax bill was submitted to the Hungarian parliament on 21 October containing measures to tax internet service providers (ISPs) HUF150 (USD0.6) per gigabyte (GB) of data traffic from 2015, with companies allowed to offset corporate income tax against this levy. Hungarian economy minister, Mihaly Varga, is cited as claiming that communications technology has changed the way telecoms services are used, therefore requiring a tax code change, according to Reuters.


The ministry allegedly predicts an annual revenue of HUF20 billion from the new tax, with the Central Statistics Office (KSH) detailing the country’s annual revenue from the internet sector to be HUF164 billion at end-2013.

Magyar Telecom (M-Tel), the country’s largest internet provider, has purportedly already paid between HUF25 billion and HUF35 billion in taxes over the last few years and can expect to pay around HUF10 billion if the proposed tax fails to be capped. The operator has called the proposal ‘drastic’ and says it will prevent further internet expansion by existing providers as well as deterring interest from new market players.

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Botswana: BoFiNeT awards five new infrastructure contracts | TeleGeography.com

Botswana’s state-owned infrastructure company, Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNeT), has awarded contracts for the construction of three new fibre-optic backbone links covering around 1,000km in total, as well as two metropolitan rings, MmegiOnline reports.


The contracts are estimated to be costing around BWP200 million (USD21.6 million) and were awarded as follows: the 360km Sekoma-Tsabong link will be deployed by Dimension Data; the 325km Sehithwa-Mohembo project was handed to Complant Botswana and Mepi Building Construction; the 362km Maun-Ngoma optical fibre project is being carried out by Four Arrows and Echoes Holdings; the Maun metro ring will be deployed by MMP Construction and Nowaji Services; and the Kasane-Kazungula metro fibre project will be carried out by Business Online.

BoFiNeT was spun off from former monopoly fixed line operator Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) in November 2012 and now owns and operates the country’s nationwide backbone networks, as well as its interests in international cable systems such as Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and West African Cable System (WACS).

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Pakistan | Mobilink passes one million 3G subscriber mark | TeleGeography.com

Mobilink has passed the one million 3G subscriber milestone just three months after inaugurating the service, which the cellco claims makes it the fastest growing 3G provider in Pakistan, Pro Pakistani writes.


Mobilink was the last of the nation’s major cellcos to launch its 3G platform – excluding Warid Telecom, which did not compete for a 3G concession – activating its network in July 2014. Pakistan Telecommunication Mobile Ltd (PTML), which trades as Ufone, was the first to market the service in May, whilst Zong and Telenor launched their offerings the following month.


Commenting on the company’s success, Mobilink’s chief commercial officer Bilal Munir Sheikh noted: ‘Our rollout plan is carefully designed to ensure that we provide the most robust 3G coverage in cities in which we are present. Our teams on [the] ground continue to work towards ensuring that we [are] providing the best customer experience in cities and locations before committing to new ones’.

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Research Shows Mass Surveillance Fails 'Drastically' In Striking Balance Between Costs And Benefits To Society | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com

Research Shows Mass Surveillance Fails 'Drastically' In Striking Balance Between Costs And Benefits To Society | Glyn Moody | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

One of the many problems with the debate on mass surveillance is that it is largely driven by emotions, on both sides. Facts are few and far between -- much is secret, for obvious reasons -- which makes objective discussion hard. What is needed is some rigorous research into this area. Surprisingly, it turns out the European Union has been funding just such a project, called "Surveille," a name derived from "Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency." Here are the project's aims:

1. To provide a comprehensive survey of the types of surveillance technology deployed in Europe.

2. To assess the benefits and costs of surveillance technology. 'Benefits' refers to the delivery of improved security; 'costs' to the economic costs, negative public perceptions, negative effects on behaviour and infringement of fundamental rights.

3. To identify, elaborate and assess the whole range of legal and ethical issues raised by the use of surveillance technology in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism and other crime -- including those related to fundamental rights.

4. To communicate continuously the results of the research to a representative sample of stakeholders: European decision-makers, law enforcement professionals, local authorities, and technology developers, and to receive feedback to inform continuing research.

A post on the Just Security site by Professor Martin Scheinin, the coordinator of the Surveille project, gives a good summary of the latest results of the research, which have been released as a 50-page paper entitled "Assessing Surveillance in the Context of Preventing a Terrorist Act". Here's what he writes:


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City Of London Police Fail And Censor Their Way To A Lot More UK Taxpayer Money | Mike Masnick | Techdirt

City Of London Police Fail And Censor Their Way To A Lot More UK Taxpayer Money | Mike Masnick | Techdirt | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

We've written plenty about the City of London Police and its Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), which despite an official jurisdiction covering a square mile of London, has made it clear that it considers itself Hollywood's private police force worldwide when it comes to stopping copyright infringement online.


PIPCU has basically been a bumbling, censoring mess from the beginning. A year ago, it started ordering domain registrars to kill off websites with no court order and no legal basis -- demands that actually violated ICANN's policies. For registrars that ignored those baseless, bogus censorship demands, PIPCU started sending ridiculous threats claiming that they were engaged in criminal behavior.


Of course, PIPCU's understanding of both the internet and "criminal" laws is suspect. The head of the unit, Adrian Leppard, claims that "the Tor" is "90% of the internet" and "is a risk to society." Another top officer, Andy Fyfe, somehow believes that if PIPCU isn't running around censoring sites there would be anarchy online.


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The roof of Abu Dhabi Central Market can now be closed to keep it cool | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com

The roof of Abu Dhabi Central Market can now be closed to keep it cool | Stu Robarts | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

During Abu Dhabi's winter, temperatures drop to around a comfortable 24º C (75º F) in the daytime. In summer, however, they can get close to 50º C (122º F). To combat the sweltering heat, Abu Dhabi's open air market can now close its roof.

The newly-refurbished Abu Dhabi Central Market was designed by Foster + Partners. It is one of two public spaces in Abu Dhabi that have been designed by UK architects, the other being Thomas Heatherwick's Al Fayah public park. Like Al Fayah, the Central Market design seeks to help keep visitors cool when the temperature begins to rise.

The market sits on the site of the original commercial district and is aimed at being a "modern version of the souk [a Middle Eastern open-air market]" and a "reinterpretation of the traditional marketplace." It is a multipurpose development and, in addition to retail, will cater for residential, hospitality and commercial functions.


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Fiber optics could be used to predict landslides | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com

Fiber optics could be used to predict landslides | Ben Coxworth | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Landslides kill thousands of people every year, so it should come as no surprise that various systems have been developed in an effort to predict when they're about to occur. One of the most recent innovations, developed by scientists at Italy's Second University of Naples, utilizes fiber optics to create a sort of watchable "nervous system" of the slope that's being monitored.

Ordinarily, electronic inclinometers are used to provide warnings of impending landslides. The devices are placed on the slope in question, and notify officials when the angle of that slope changes significantly. According to the Naples researchers, however, their system is tougher, less expensive and more sensitive.

It consists of a linked network of sensor modules, which are buried in trenches throughout the slope – the area can be up to several square kilometers in size. Each module is made up of a plastic tube, containing several types of fiber optic sensors.

As the soil shifts, the tube and its sensors are twisted. Officials can remotely monitor just how much the sensors in all of the modules are twisting, to get an overall picture of the amount of tensile strain that the slope is experiencing.


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A place with the population of West Virginia just powered a work day entirely on clean energy | James West | Mother Jones

A place with the population of West Virginia just powered a work day entirely on clean energy | James West | Mother Jones | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Here's one for the naysayers who insist renewable energy can't keep the lights on and power our cities. An entire state in Australia with a population of around 1.7 million people just used renewable energy to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs throughout an entire working day. According to industry news site Energy Business News:

Between 9.30 and 6pm on Tuesday, September 30, a day not unlike most Tuesdays, with business and homes using electricity as usual, the state received the favourable weather conditions allowing solar and wind infrastructure to work side by side to achieve the impressive achievement.

The analysis comes from Pitt & Sherry, an Australian energy consultancy. As the wind picked up, all but two of the state's coal-fired power generators, and one gas-powered unit, were shut down; the excess power was exported to other regions, according to the report. There were a few moments during the previous days—on September 27 and 28—when the state actually produced more wind power than the state's total energy demand. Normally, nearly a third of the state's energy comes from renewable sources, according to figures from 2012 to 2013.

South Australia, home to the city of Adelaide, has almost half of the country's wind capacity; 25 percent of its households have rooftop solar installations, according to the report. The state is aggressively pursuing green energy goals, upping its 2025 renewable energy commitment from 33 percent to 50 percent, having met its previous goal six years ahead of schedule.


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