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@The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy
Our Global Future in the 21st Century is based on "The Third Industrial Revolution" which finally connects our new ICT infrastructure with distributed energy sources that are both renewable and sustainable
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MTN South Africa’s FTTH deployment ‘progressing smoothly’ | TeleGeography.com

South African network provider MTN has revealed that its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment is ‘progressing smoothly’, with selected residential users expected to be connected to the network in ‘a few weeks’, MyBroadband reports. The operator initially hoped to introduce a commercial 100Mbps FTTH broadband service in the country on 1 June 2014, following successful demonstration of the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology at the Monaghan Farm estate, located 30km north of Johannesburg, on 12 April.


Robin Maduray, general manager of Transmission Planning and Optimisation at MTN, has disclosed that MTN’s transmission network has grown exponentially since 2009 and comprises approximately 12,000km of lit fibre, with 5,000 active microwave links. Maduray added that, to date, there are approximately 2,300 access sites connected to the fibre-optic network. He commented: ‘MTN’s FTTH deployment is progressing smoothly and some residents will enjoy the benefits of high speed broadband connectivity in a few weeks … Furthermore, MTN has built strategic microwave routes in rural areas to complement the fibre rollout, and is similarly investigating partnerships with other interested parties.’


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The Post-Snowden Surveillance World: Network Effects, Low Marginal Costs, And Technical Lock-in | Techdirt.com

The Post-Snowden Surveillance World: Network Effects, Low Marginal Costs, And Technical Lock-in | Techdirt.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The concept of network effects, and the lock-in they produce, are both by now fairly well known. Most people understand why Microsoft retains its stranglehold on the desktop and word processing formats, despite the availability of equivalent free alternatives like GNU/Linux and LibreOffice, just as Facebook dominates the social networking sphere. A fascinating new paper by Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University, uses the idea of network effects and related areas to explore some of the deeper implications of Snowden's revelations about the modern world of surveillance (pdf).


Alongside network effects, Anderson notes two other factors, familiar from the world of technology, that are increasingly visible in the world of surveillance: low marginal costs and technical lock-in. First, the network effects:


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Forget drones and satellites: Microsoft’s plan to bring the internet to the world is all about TV | Quartz.com

Forget drones and satellites: Microsoft’s plan to bring the internet to the world is all about TV | Quartz.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Google will spend between $1 billion and $3 billion to put 180 satellites in orbit, from where the company can beam the internet down to unconnected parts of the world, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. That’s in addition to Google’s other high-tech internet missionaries: balloons floating high in the sky and drones circling overhead. Facebook also has lofty ambitions.


But there may be a simpler way to spread connectivity: Television white space. TV is broadcast using the electro-magnetic spectrum—as is radio, communications and cell phone signal. Each television channel owns one tiny slice of that spectrum, which is regulated by governments. But there are gaps between channels to prevent one from interfering with the next. As the world’s thirst for wireless technologies grows, government regulators are looking at unused broadcast spectrum as a way to ease congestion and spur innovation.


The idea may sound less glamorous than drones, satellites and balloons, but it’s an area where African countries are leading the way, with impressive results. And it has attracted a lot of attention ever since 2010, when the United States’ Federal Communications Commission announced that white space would be available license-free.


That spurred companies big and small to run pilot programs testing whether the system could be used to bring broadband access to rural American communities that had made do with dial-up or satellite connections. Microsoft was one of the firms that ran a pilot program at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.


For the past year, Microsoft has also been experimenting in Africa, and the results have been encouraging, Paul Garnett, Microsoft’s head of technology policy, tells HumanIPO, a Nairobi tech blog.


Microsoft has made less noise than its counterparts about its efforts to provide internet access to remote users in the developing world. Launched last year, Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative is more limited in scope than programs touted by Google or Facebook, which aim to take the web to the world. Microsoft’s focus, as the name suggests, is just Africa. But that doesn’t mean Microsoft’s program is less ambitious: the potential for change on that continent is arguably much greater, because Africa lags far behind the rest of world when it comes to internet access, as the map above shows.


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Antarctic sea ice hit 35-year record high Saturday | WashPost.com

Antarctic sea ice hit 35-year record high Saturday | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.


On Saturday, the ice extent reached 19.51 million square kilometers, according to data posted on the National Snow and Ice Data Center Web site.  That number bested record high levels set earlier this month and in 2012 (of 19.48 million square kilometers). Records date back to October 1978.


The increasing ice is especially perplexing since the water beneath the ice has warmed, not cooled.


“The overwhelming evidence is that the Southern Ocean is warming,” said Jinlun Zhang, a University of Washington scientist, studying Antarctic ice. “Why would sea ice be increasing? Although the rate of increase is small, it is a puzzle to scientists.”


In a new study in the Journal of Climate, Zhang finds both strengthening and converging winds around the South Pole can explain 80 percent of the increase in ice volume which has been observed.


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Europe faces cereals crop crash | Climate News Network

Europe faces cereals crop crash | Climate News Network | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Harvests of wheat and barley across Europe could be 20% lower by 2040 as average temperatures rise by 2°C. And by 2060, European farmers could be facing very serious losses.


As the likelihood of weather extremes increases with temperature, the consequences of lower yields will be felt around the world. Europe produces, for example, 29% of the world’s wheat.


Two consecutive studies in Nature Climate Change examine the challenges faced by the farmers − the first of the reports being by a team led by Miroslav Trnka, of the Czech Global Change Research Centre in Brno.


They considered the impact of changing conditions in 14 very different wheat growing zones − from the Alpine north to the southern Mediterranean, from the great plains of Northern Europe to the baking uplands of the Iberian peninsula, and from the Baltic seascapes of Denmark to the fertile flood plains of the Danube.


It is a given that farmers are at the mercy of the weather, and that crops are vulnerable to unseasonal conditions. But a rise in average temperatures of 2°C is likely to increase the frequency of unfavourable conditions.


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Future of secure messenger in doubt after Pirate Bay arrest | NetworkWorld.com

Future of secure messenger in doubt after Pirate Bay arrest | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The arrest of Peter Sunde for his involvement with The Pirate Bay has put the future of his latest project, a spy-proof text messaging app, in doubt.


Sunde was arrested by police in the southern part of Sweden on Saturday, officials there confirmed Monday morning.


Three and half years have passed since he was sentenced to eight months in prison for being an accessory to crimes against copyright law as a result of his involvement in The Pirate Bay.


Sunde has denied any ongoing involvement in The Pirate Bay, but his arrest could affect his latest project, a messaging app.


Hemlis, which is slang for secret in Swedish, was announced in July last year, and apps for Android and iOS are still under development. They promise end-to-end encryption using keys generated on the end user devices.


"By now the word is spreading of Peter's arrest and people are wondering if this means that Hemlis will be delayed. The honest answer is that we don't know. We will update the blog on Monday with more information," the project wrote on its Facebook page.


The Hemlis blog hadn't yet been updated by around noon GMT.


The idea to create Hemlis came following the revelations in the media about the extent of the surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency and other government agencies, Sunde said last year.


In addition to Sunde, the Hemlis team includes Linus Olsson -- who also co-founded microdonations service Flattr with Sunde -- and Leif HAPgberg, Flattr's CTO.


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Are universities teaching the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy? | Tony Bates Blog

Are universities teaching the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy? | Tony Bates Blog | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

I’ve been on holiday the last two and a half weeks, but also doing some writing for my open textbook on teaching in a digital age.


Are universities teaching the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy?


This is one of the questions I have been asking myself, and there of course a couple of ways to respond to this:


1. Of course – we teach critical thinking, problem solving, research skills, and encourage original thinking: just the skills needed in today’s work force.


2. That’s not our job. Our job is the pure exploration of new knowledge and ideas and to pass that love of knowledge on to the next generation. If some of that rubs off in the commercial world, well and good, but that’s not our purpose.


I have a little bit of sympathy for the second answer. Universities provide society with a safe way of gambling on the future, by encouraging innovative research and development that may have no immediate apparent short-term benefits, or may lead to nowhere, without incurring major commercial or social loss.


Another critical role is the ability to challenge the assumptions or positions of powerful agencies outside the university, such as government or industry, when these seem to be in conflict with evidence or ethical principles or the general good of society. 


There is a real danger in tying university and college programs too closely to immediate labour market needs. Labour market demand can shift very rapidly, and in particular, in a knowledge-based society, it is impossible to judge what kinds of work, business or trades will emerge in the future.


However the rapid expansion in higher education and the very large sums invested in higher education is largely driven by government, employers and parents wanting a work-force that is employable, competitive and if possible affluent. Indeed, this has always been one role for universities, which started as preparation and training for the church, law and much later, government administration.


So it’s the first response I want to examine more closely. Are the skills that universities claim to be developing (a) actually being done and (b) if they are being done, are they really the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy.


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VA: In Norfolk, evidence of climate change is in the streets at high tide | WashPost.com

VA: In Norfolk, evidence of climate change is in the streets at high tide | WashPost.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

At high tide on the small inlet next to Norfolk’s most prestigious art museum, the water lapped at the very top of the concrete sea wall that has held it back for 100 years. It seeped up through storm drains, puddled on the promenade and spread, half a foot deep, across the street, where a sign read, “Road Closed.”


The sun was shining, but all around the inlet people were bracing for more serious flooding. The Chrysler Museum of Art had just completed a $24 million renovation that emptied the basement, now accessible only by ladder, and lifted the heating and air-conditioning systems to the top floor. A local accounting firm stood behind a homemade barricade of stanchions and detachable flaps rigged to keep the water out. And the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk was looking to evacuate.


“We don’t like being the poster child for climate change,” said the Rev. Jennifer Slade, who added that the building, with its carved-wood sanctuary and soaring flood-insurance rates, would soon be on the market for the first time in four decades. “I don’t know many churches that have to put the tide chart on their Web site” so people know whether they can get to church.


On May 6, the Obama administration released the third National Climate Assessment, and President Obama proclaimed climate change no longer a theory; its effects, he said, are already here. This came as no surprise in Norfolk, where normal tides have risen 11 / 2 feet over the past century and the sea is rising faster than anywhere else on the East Coast.


The more urgent question is what to do about it — and how to pay for it. For that, the White House has offered few answers.


Focused for much of his presidency on a politically contentious campaign to slow global warming by reducing carbon emissions, Obama has turned only recently to the matter of preparing the nation for effects that scientists say already are inevitable. Last year, the Government Accountability Office added climate change to its “high-risk” list, declaring that the lack of planning poses “significant financial risks” to the federal government, which funds flood and crop insurance, pays for disaster relief and owns hundreds of facilities exposed to rising seas.


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Scientists create weavable Li-ion fiber battery yarn | GizMag.com

Scientists create weavable Li-ion fiber battery yarn | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Scientists at the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have developed a high-performance Li-ion battery made of carbon nanotube fiber yarns. Roughly one 1 mm in diameter, the fiber shaped lithium-ion batteries are reported lightweight enough to create weavable and wearable textile batteries that could power various devices. The researchers say that the yarn is capable of delivering nearly 71 mAh/g of power, and can also be woven into existing textiles to create novel electronic fabrics.


To make the fiber batteries, the team had to develop functional cathode and anode composite yarns. Lithium manganate (LMO) particles were deposited on a carbon nanotube (CNT) sheet and scrolled up to create a CNT-LMO composite yarn which functions as the cathode. The anode composite yarns were made by sandwiching a CNT sheet between two silicon-coated CNT sheets and scrolling them up. When the two yarns, which are separated by a gel electrolyte for safety, are wound, it results in a CNT-based fiber shaped Li-ion battery (LIB).


"The two yarns can be twisted directly to form a battery, or can also be wound onto any commercial polymer fiber as they both have small diameters and good flexibility," Dr Wei Wang, the lead researcher, tells Gizmag. "The fiber battery can then be added into an existing textile or just woven into a textile directly."


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US EPA to seek deep cuts in carbon emissions from power plants | USAToday.com

US EPA to seek deep cuts in carbon emissions from power plants | USAToday.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil a sweeping proposal Monday that will require deep cuts in carbon emissions from existing power plants, including a 30% national target by 2030, according to two people briefed on the plan.


The EPA draft rule, a major plank of President Obama's initiative to fight climate change, will require states to develop and implement plans to cut power plant emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. It will give states different reduction targets but will seek a national average — from 2005 levels — of 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2030, say those familiar with the plan.


Thwarted by Congress' inability to pass a bill to lower U.S. carbon emissions, Obama is pushing his own approach. Last June, he asked the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to limit power plants emissions, which account for the largest share — nearly 40% — of total U.S. emissions. Coal-fired facilities will be hardest hit, because they emit more carbon than other power plants.


The rule, expected to trigger legal challenges, will not take effect for at least two more years. Obama has asked the EPA to finalize it in June 2015, after which the states will have at least a year to craft their plans. If states balk at submitting them, the EPA could step in with its own version.


The proposal is expected to give states a range of emission-reduction targets with varying deadlines and options to meet them. So, states could comply by requiring plants to install pollution-control technology; setting up energy efficiency programs to reduce energy demand; or using more carbon-free energy such as solar and nuclear or cleaner-burning fuels like natural gas.


Obama pledged in 2009 to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% by 2050. The nation's carbon emissions dipped between 2008 and 2015 but rose slightly last year.


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States move to blunt President Barack Obama's carbon emission plan | MassLive.com

States move to blunt President Barack Obama's carbon emission plan | MassLive.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce tougher new air quality standards, lawmakers in several states already are trying to blunt the impact on aging coal-fired power plants that feed electricity to millions of consumers.


The push against Obama's new carbon emission standards has been strongest in some states that have large coal-mining industries or rely heavily on coal to fuel their electricity. State officials say the new federal regulations could jeopardize the jobs of thousands of workers and drive up the monthly electric bills of residents and businesses.


It remains to be seen whether new measures passed by the states will amount to mere political symbolism or actually temper what's expected to be an aggressive federal effort to reduce the country's reliance on coal. But either way, states likely will play a pivotal role, because federal clean air laws leave it up to each state to come up its own plan for complying with the emission guidelines.


The proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules to be announced Monday could be the first to apply to carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants. Coal is the most common fuel source for the nation's electricity and, when it's burned, is a leading source of the greenhouse gasses that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.


Without waiting to see what Obama proposes, governors in Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia have signed laws directing their environmental agencies to develop their own carbon emission plans that consider the costs of compliance at individual power plants. Similar measures recently passed in Missouri and are pending in the Louisiana and Ohio legislatures.


Missouri lawmakers went even further in their defense of the coal industry. When activists proposed a ballot initiative barring local tax breaks for St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, state lawmakers quickly passed a measure banning such moves.


Some states have specifically empowered local regulators to develop emission plans that are less stringent than federal guidelines. According to measures passed recently, the state policies are to take into account the "unreasonable cost" of reducing emissions based on a plant's age and design and the "economic impacts" of shutting down particular power plants.


"The concern is that the federal standards -- if they come out the way that most people expect them to -- are going to drive the cost of electricity up for every single consumer in the state," said Missouri state Rep. Todd Richardson, a Republican.


Eighty-three percent of Missouri's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, the fifth highest percentage nationally behind West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming and Indiana.


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German villagers build own broadband network | TheLocal.de

German villagers build own broadband network | TheLocal.de | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Too isolated and with few inhabitants, the tiny village of Löwenstedt in northern Germany is simply too small to show up on the radars of national Internet operators. 


So the villagers took their digital fate into their own hands and built a broadband Internet network of their own.


Peter Kock, who runs an agricultural technology supply firm in the village, couldn't be happier.


Data files that used to take two hours to load onto his computer screen now appear in just 30 seconds. "It's brilliant. There's no comparison," he enthused.


And that benefits his customers, too, because thanks to the new high-speed connection he can check the availability of parts much more rapidly.


Surrounded by wind power generators and fields, around 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Danish border, the picturesque brick houses and gardens of Löwenstedt, with its population of just 640, are spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres).


With around 22 kilometres of network needed to link up all of the houses to the high-speed data highway, "we would never have found a company willing to supply the necessary fibre-optics," said mayor Holger Jensen.


Some 58 other communities in Northern Friesland face similar difficulties and so the idea was born of clubbing together - businesses, individuals and villages - to secure access to a modern technology that is taken for granted in most German towns and cities.


Mounted on the walls of Kock's store room are two white boxes bearing the initials BBNG or Citizens' Broadband Network Company, set up in 2012 to collect the funds and build the fibre-optic network.


The firm with five staff has collected more than €2.5 million ($3.4 million) in funds, thanks to its 925 shareholders who each contributed a minimum of €1,000, said BBNG chief Ute Gabriel-Boucsein.


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Ireland: ComReg considers plan to pull the plug on more than one-third of all payphones | TeleGeography.com

The Irish Examiner reports that the country’s industry regulator ComReg is considering introducing a new policy that could result in Eircom being allowed to decommission over one-third of the more than 1,300 public payphones it currently has in service.


The watchdog is poised to re-designate Eircom – the only company operating payphones in the Republic – as the country’s universal service provider for another four-year period from 1 July 2014. However, it is considering easing regulations on service provision to allow the telco to decommission phones, without public consultation, where it determines that usage has fallen so low it can be concluded they are no longer needed.


Under the new rules which allow the PTO to switch off phones where daily usage has fallen to an average of less than a minute, the paper notes that Eircom could look to shut down almost 500 public payphones (or 37% of the total). There were once more than 8,500 public phone booths in operation, but this had dropped to 4,690 by 2003 and reached 1,325 in 712 locations at end-2013.

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Vodafone Qatar launches 4G for all users | TeleGeography.com

Vodafone Qatar yesterday launched commercial LTE mobile broadband services for all compatible handset, tablet or modem/Mi-Fi users, joining rival Ooredoo in the 4G market. All Vodafone’s customers with a 4G-enabled device can automatically access the LTE high speed mobile data services, at no additional subscription fees, using their existing data bundles.


Vodafone subscribers can also choose to access 8GB per month free video streaming via ‘Go by OSN’ (available on PCs and Macs, smartphones and tablets) on a six-month free trial (after which a subscription will cost QAR37 [USD10.15] a month). Customers choosing ‘Go by OSN’ can currently access over 500 movies, 150 series and over 100 children’s/family shows.


Additionally, customers can choose to sign up to ‘Anghami’ music streaming with up to six months’ free trial, including 1GB per month of Anghami streaming, following which a subscription will cost QAR20 a month.


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White Spaces community meets in Ghana to plan future wireless strategy | TelecomTV.com

White Spaces community meets in Ghana to plan future wireless strategy | TelecomTV.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The second annual event of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) opened today in Accra, Ghana, as the industry seeks to widen the technology’s appeal from TV White Spaces to other frequency bands and applications.


The event seeks to explore dynamic spectrum access technologies, business models and regulations, which are particularly relevant to Africa. Although dynamic spectrum access has to date been mainly associated with so-called White Spaces spectrum (the frequencies in the VHF and UHF TV broadcast bands that are either unassigned or unused) it has far wider relevance.


Dynamic spectrum access encompasses a range of emerging wireless technologies that can use radios frequencies more efficiently than cellular – allocating available spectrum to people and devices as and when required. This approach promises to increase the availability of bandwidth whilst reducing its cost. It’s also proving to be highly feasible for connecting rural areas to broadband, improving in-building wireless, creating hotspots for Internet access and for offloading cellular traffic.

Microsoft is a strong supporter of dynamic spectrum sharing and the DSA, and has today announced new White Spaces partnerships and projects on four continents, bringing its total involvement to pilots in 10 countries.


“TV white spaces technology, when combined with other low-cost wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, offers a substantial opportunity for businesses, consumers and governments around the world to improve the economics of broadband network deployment and service delivery,” said Paul Garnett, director in Microsoft’s Technology Policy Group.

“Through these projects worldwide, we are working with local private- and public-sector partners to enable new consumer experiences, while encouraging governments to make needed legal and regulatory changes to allow this technology to be deployed more broadly.”


Following successful White Spaces trials in Accra, new deployments will soon take place at selected Ghanaian colleges to connect campus buildings. Microsoft is working with SpectraLink Wireless and Facebook to deploy networks as part of its 4Afrika Initiative. The project is operating under a pilot license granted by the Ghana National Communications Authority and is the only TV White Space license currently issued in West Africa.


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Australia: Science going back to dark ages | TheAge.com.au

Australia: Science going back to dark ages | TheAge.com.au | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The Climate Commission has gone. The carbon tax is to be rescinded. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is to be abolished. The promise of a "Million Solar Roofs" is broken. And in what can only be described as an ideological move, the Abbott government introduced bills to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, despite it making a profit last year. The Prime Minister has declared war on the Australian renewable energy industry, the environment and science itself.


The overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming is based on evidence, whether Tony Abbott chooses to act on it or not. A sceptic is someone who doubts accepted opinion; a denier is someone who refuses to accept fact. Scepticism is healthy, denial is dangerous, and intentionally dismantling the entire renewable energy industry of a country that is not only wealthy, sun blessed and windswept but also has the highest per capita CO2 emissions in the OECD is criminally reckless. Furthermore, it will cripple our future economic growth.


The global economy has embraced the renewable energy industry. Last year wind power grew by 25 per cent worldwide and solar power by 30 per cent. On May 11, Germany met 74 per cent of its electricity demand with renewable energy.


Germany, the strongest and largest economy in Europe, has only half the average solar resource of Australia yet has 10 times the capacity of solar PV panels. The Chinese economy is four times the size of ours yet they have 30 times as much wind power installed.


While we quibble about the intermittency of renewables, industries in Spain and the US have invested billions in solar thermal plants, many of which store heat and produce electricity long after sunset. Given our abundant renewable resources, we should be leading the world in research and investment, instead Abbott would have us squander our competitive advantage and destroy massive economic potential.


This budget has been decried as heartless; unfortunately, it is also brainless. The sun provides the Earth with enough energy in one hour to power civilisation for a year. There are already 19 markets worldwide where solar PV panels match or undercut fossil fuel electricity prices, without subsidy. The sun’s rays will soon dominate and underpin the entire global economy. This government’s denial of both sun and science can only be described as pre-Copernican.


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MA: Trawlers clean out coastal herring | CapeCodOnline.com

MA: Trawlers clean out coastal herring | CapeCodOnline.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Like many who represent Cape and Islands fishermen, Alex Friedman, the president of the Dukes County Fishermen's Association, started getting calls a week ago that eight large vessels, operating in pairs, were towing large nets the size of football fields between them and cleaning out the herring just a few miles east of Cape Cod.


These boats caught so much herring in such a short period of time that they overshot the quota for the herring management area that runs from Chatham to Gloucester and 200 miles out to the territorial limit by 60 percent, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.


"As our season, both the commercial and recreational, is about to start, to have such a massive effort on forage fish is unprecedented," Friedman said. "People start seeing the scale of these boats and connect that with the fact that they are removing food for tuna, whales and other important species."


Because these midwater trawl herring vessels, which run more than 160-feet long, must catch a lot of relatively low-priced herring to make a profit, and because herring tend to run in dense homogenous schools, this type of fishing technique is permitted by the federal government. But local fishermen worry that they are too efficient at catching herring and can quickly catch every school in an area, driving important species such as striped bass and bluefin tuna farther offshore, out of the reach of the Cape's small-boat fishermen.


The herring boats are permitted only in federal waters. But Cape fishermen said these vessels were towing right up on the state line, within three miles of shore and visible from the bluffs and beaches of the Outer Cape.


"People were calling me up and saying they were inside of three miles," said Raymond Kane, outreach coordinator for the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance. "This should rankle everybody when they go 60 percent over what they were allocated."


The total allowable quota for Atlantic herring is divided among four different blocks or management areas that run from the Mid-Atlantic states up to the Canadian border. Herring are a key species in the ocean food web, converting plankton into protein. They are eaten by many species.


Scientists and fishery managers set quotas and open and close herring areas depending on the life cycles and nutritional demands of predators in that block.


"It's easier to notice it from the air," said Rich Ruais, the executive director of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Association, speaking about the impact of herring trawling. "You don't see the life. The whales are not there now, there's no whitewater from them feeding or birds."


That is not true, said Mary Beth Tooley, who sits on the New England Fishery Management Council and is a spokesperson for the O'Hara Corp. of Rockland, Maine, which owns two of the trawlers.


"We don't take all the herring," she said.


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Firefox’s adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart | The Guardian

Firefox’s adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart | The Guardian | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Future versions of the open-source Firefox browser will include closed-source digital rights management (DRM) from Adobe, the Mozilla project’s chief technology officer, Andreas Gal, announced on Wednesday.


The purpose is to support commercial video streams. But this is a radical, disheartening development in the history of the organisation, long held out as a beacon for the open, free spirit of the web as a tool for liberation.


As Gal’s blogpost makes clear, this move was done without much enthusiasm, out of a fear that Firefox (Mozilla’s flagship product and by far the most popular free/open browser in the world) was being sidelined by Apple, Google and Microsoft’s inclusion of proprietary technology to support Netflix and other DRM-encumbered videos in their browsers.


In my long-running discussions with Mozilla’s most senior management over this issue, they’ve been clear in their belief that their userbase – and relevance to the internet – will dwindle unless they add support for viewing Hollywood movies in their browser. Not just Hollywood; the BBC has been one of the major “rights holder” voices calling for the addition of DRM to the web.


This shift is part of a change in the way that browsers work in general. Since the early days of the Netscape browser, third-party plug-ins have been a common way to extend browser functionality. Users who wanted to watch DRM-restricted video could install proprietary plugins such as Microsoft’s Silverlight or Adobe’s Flash.


The plug-in architecture is a security nightmare, and a source of numerous breaches through which buggy or malicious code was able to reach into users’ computers and compromise them. Now that browsers run in computers that we carry around in our pockets, connected to microphones and video cameras, and manage everything from our finance to our thermostats, abolishing plug-ins was an inevitable and welcome step.


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Google plans investment in satellite fleet to connect remote parts of the world | NetworkWorld.com

Google plans investment in satellite fleet to connect remote parts of the world | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

After experimenting with high altitude balloons, Google is now also looking use a fleet of low-earth-orbit satellites to bring Internet access to remote regions of the world.


The company plans to spend between US$1 billion and US$3 billion to initially bring 180 high-capacity satellites in orbit at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday citing people familiar with the matter. The number of satellites used could double during the project.


The project is said to be led by Greg Wyler, the founder of satellite company O3b networks, who recently joined Google with O3b's former CTO, according to the Wall Street Journal. The project aims to overcome financial and technical problems that hindered earlier efforts, the newspaper said.


Google-backed O3b Networks launched its first satellites that aim to provide low-cost and high-speed connectivity to remote parts of the world in June 2013.


O3b's satellites weigh about 680 kilograms but Google plans to use satellites that weigh about 110 kg, according to the Wall Street Journal.


Big tech companies are interested in bringing Internet access, and with it their services, to less connected parts of the globe. Google is already working to deliver Internet access with Project Loon, a fleet of balloons floating in the stratosphere to avoid planes and nasty weather conditions. Its plan is that devices could connect to the balloons using a special antenna.


Facebook is also making efforts to connect the two-thirds of the world that currently don't have access to the Internet. In August it launched A a quest together with six other tech companies to bridge the digital divide.


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American Energy Policy and Global Warming and Economic Adaptation | The Energy Collective

The 3rd National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released earlier this month, painting a frightening picture of the spiraling costs of climate disruption to America and highlighting the need to price carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. While President Obama has pledged action and the electricity industry nervously awaits new EPA regulations for power plant emissions, the most appropriate action remains politically impossible: carbon taxes, cap and trade and carbon pricing are all consistently used as divisive issues to excite the conservative base of the GOP.


This is exactly backwards.  If you believe in American capitalism and free markets then you believe in a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The only question is what that price should be.


A properly functioning market-based economy creates a real and accurate price for a product, supporting rational consumer behavior. In a market-based economy, businesses are rewarded for efficiency, because lower cost motivates consumers. This is why American capitalism has been so successful — a very clear reward exists for developing efficiencies or innovation, and that reward is market share. This reward is a fundamental principle on which American excellence was built.


Rather than being included in the price of energy, the external price of our CO2 emissions has been, and will continue to be, socialized across current and future populations through the costs and taxes that will pay for damage to property and human health. 


Here is what we know:


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U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For The First Time | ThinkProgress.org

U.S. Residential Solar Just Beat Commercial Installations For The First Time | ThinkProgress.org | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

The first quarter of 2014 was another big one for the U.S. solar industry, with 74 percent of all new electricity generation across the country coming from solar power. The 1,330 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed last quarter bring the total in the U.S. up to 14.8 gigawatts of installed capacity — enough to power three million homes, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).


In addition to being the largest quarter ever for concentrating solar power, a method of large-scale solar generation that uses a unique ‘salt battery’ to allow the solar plant to keep producing power even when the sun goes down, it was also the first time in the history of SEIA’s reports that residential solar installations surpassed commercial in the same time period. 232 MW of residential PV were installed in the first quarter, compared to 225 MW of commercial solar.


The remarkable growth of rooftop solar across the U.S. is sparking battles in multiple states as customers, utilities, and the solar industry wrestle with how solar customers should be compensated for the excess power they send back to the grid and whether they should be charged additional fees for maintenance and other costs incurred by the utility. And those fights will likely spread, considering more than one-third of the residential PV installations in the first quarter came online without any state incentive, another first.


Solar-friendly policies like incentives are particularly important for ensuring middle class families are able to adopt solar power for their homes. And, as a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress found, it’s middle class families that are driving the rooftop solar revolution in the U.S., as “more than 60 percent of solar installations are occurring in zip codes with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000.”


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Sunseeker Duo makes first solar-powered passenger flight | GizMag.com

Sunseeker Duo makes first solar-powered passenger flight | GizMag.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Last month, Solar Flight revealed that the team was working hard to get its Sunseeker Duo ready for the first passenger flights this (northern) summer. Today, the company announced that husband and wife team Eric and Irena Raymond have taken to the skies together, making the Duo the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people.


Gizmag first got to chat with Eric Raymond about the Sunseeker Duo at the Green Air Show in Paris, France four years ago, where we were shown a mockup of the cockpit. Raymond turned to Kickstarter in 2012 to raise development funds. Construction was completed by the close of last year, followed by system tests and tweaks before heading up into the skies for solo runs.


Solar Flight says that the Raymonds took off together in the company's third powered airplane from its test facility near Milan, Italy. For take off, the Duo uses energy harvested from the 1,510 solar cells on its wings and tail and stored in a battery pack in the fuselage. Once in the air, the airplane then cruises directly on solar power. The company claims that, with two people on board, it's capable of flights of 12 hours or more.


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Japan heatwave kills two, hundreds taken to hospital | MedicalXpress.com

Japan heatwave kills two, hundreds taken to hospital | MedicalXpress.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Two people have been killed and hundreds treated in hospital after a weekend heatwave swept over Japan, officials and reports said Sunday.


A 74-year-old women collapsed while working in a greenhouse in the eastern prefecture of Chiba on Saturday and was later pronounced dead.


In Ibaraki, also in the east of the country, a 61-year-old was found collapsed in her garden and died.


On Sunday, a 76-year-old man was taken to hospital unconscious in Sera, in the western prefecture of Hiroshima, after collapsing near a river bank.


"He is suspected of having a heatstroke," a local ambulance worker told AFP by telephone.


The official said there were unconfirmed reports that the man had been working in rice paddies before collapsing.


More than 300 people were treated at hospital on Saturday alone, the public broadcaster said as mercury rose past 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in many towns across the nation.


The temperature reached 33 degrees C (91F) in central Tokyo by mid-afternoon Sunday with over 36 degrees C (97 F) recorded in Tatebayashi, north of the capital.

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The Internet of Things gets real | NetworkWorld.com

The Internet of Things gets real | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

A year ago, people were mostly talking about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) — what companies and government entities might do in the future to take advantage of this widespread network of connected objects.


While we’re still in the early stages of IoT, today it’s looking like more of a reality, with a number of implementations in the works. And while many issues still need to be sorted out — data security and privacy for one — a growing number of companies are exploring how they can leverage IoT-related technologies.


IoT is clearly on a growth curve. A March 2014 Gartner report estimates that the Internet of Things will include some 26 billion Internet-connected physical devices by 2020. By that time, IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue of more than $300 billion, according to Gartner.


“IoT is rapidly moving from the fringe of the Internet to the mainstream,” says Tim Murdoch, head of digital services at Cambridge Consultants, a U.K.-based technology consulting firm.


The number of anecdotes about the “connected fridge” are abating, Murdoch says, and the number of actually connected and commercially available cars, electricity meters, street lights, wearable technologies and so on is growing rapidly.


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Security researcher warns cars can be hacked to remotely take control | Ms. Smith Blog | NetworkWorld.com

Security researcher warns cars can be hacked to remotely take control | Ms. Smith Blog | NetworkWorld.com | @The Convergence of ICT & Distributed Renewable Energy | Scoop.it

Imagine a job where you go into work, sit down at your desk, boot up your machine and then launch a cyberattack on a car while it is being driven on the other side of the globe. While that might sound like a movie plot, security research engineer Jonathan Brossard says it's possible.


He's not talking about sitting in the backseat with wires connected to the car's brain so that the driver is fully aware what might happen. Instead, imagine a scenario where the driver is the only person in the vehicle when suddenly he realizes that he no longer is in control because an attacker hacked the car's on-board computer and remotely took over control.


Brossard, CEO of Toucan Systems, told the Sydney Morning Herald that he "does not know of a car that has been hacked on the road but says his company does it for vehicle manufacturers in Europe." In order to determine if a car is vulnerable to a cyberattack, white hats act as attackers and try to hack a vehicle. If successful, then the car manufactures will patch it and he tries to hack it again.


Brossard explained:


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