Claim: Silicon Valley Retreating into a Renewable Energy Safe Space

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Wired author Clive Thompson, everything is going terribly wrong these days for Silicon Valley. But they are living on the hope that in the future we might buy their software so we can use Bitcoin like blockchain systems to trade meagre scraps of power gleaned from our rooftop solar systems with our neighbours.

THE SUNNY OPTIMISM OF CLEAN ENERGY SHINES THROUGH TECH’S GLOOM

CLIVE THOMPSON

BUSINESS

01.01.1810:00 AM

THE MOOD AROUND tech is dark these days. Social networks are a cesspool of harassment and lies. On-demand firms are producing a bleak economy of gig labor. AI learns to be racist. Is there anyplace where the tech news is radiant with old-fashioned optimism? Where good cheer abounds?

Why, yes, there is: clean energy. It is, in effect, the new Silicon Valley—filled with giddy, breathtaking ingenuity and flat-out good news.

Tech may have served up Nazis in social media streams, but, hey, it’s also creating microgrids—a locavore equivalent for the solar set. One of these efforts is Brooklyn-based LO3 Energy, a company that makes a paperback-sized device and software that lets owners of solar-equipped homes sell energy to their neighbors—verifying the transactions using the blockchain, to boot. LO3 is testing its system in 60 homes on its Brooklyn grid and hundreds more in other areas.

“Buy energy and you’re buying from your community,” LO3 founder Lawrence Or­sini tells me. His chipsets can also connect to smart appliances, so you could save money by letting his system cycle down your devices when the network is low on power. The company uses internet logic—smart devices that talk to each other over a dumb network—to optimize power consumption on the fly, making local clean energy ever more viable.

Mind you, early Silicon Valley had something crucial that clean energy now does not: massive federal government support. The military bought tons of microchips, helping to scale up computing. Trump’s band of climate deniers aren’t likely to be buyers of first resort for clean energy, but states can do a lot. California already has, for instance, by creating quotas for renewables. So even if you can’t afford this stuff yourself, you should pressure state and local officials to ramp up their solar energy use. It’ll give us all a boost of much-needed cheer.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/the-sunny-optimism-of-clean-energy-shines-through-techs-gloom/

What I dislike most about renewables, aside of course from the fact they don’t work as a general power solution, is the assumption enthusiasts embrace of a future of scarcity. Who in their right mind would trade fractions of a kilowatt hour with their neighbours, if there was a plentiful supply of energy? Who will care about the energy household appliances consume, if energy is cheap?

The Silicon Valley bubble might be getting all excited about blockchain driven micro-economies trading slivers of energy. I’d rather have affordable home heat and light which works on demand, when I want it.

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GoatGuy

Ever heard of a “solution in search of a problem to solve?”

This is what the “paperback book sized…” doohickey is.

GoatGuy

But… you (the article author) are entirely correct: who in their right mind is concerned about either buying or selling fractions of kilowatt hours to one’s neighbors? if the kWh are plentiful

Let’s face it – there are tinkerers in this world. A superset of those are the “must have newest tech” peeps. You know, waiting in around-the-block lines in order to buy the newest Apple smart phone. Which remains … “just a phone” in the end. Hardly worth that overnight camping in the snow tour.

Now this may come as some huge surprise to people here, but you know … there really are millions of people who are enraptured with the notion that they, personally, can do bunches and bundles in their “part” to solve the looming boiling-Earth crisis. By buying solar panels, or cute little windmills, or … paperback book sized fractional kilowatt neighbor-selling energy devices. IT IS A HOBBY. Like making sourdough bread – competently – from scratch. You can buy a great loaf for four bucks. Or you can spend 2 days trying. I like the trying, personally.

The thing is, at this site, we tend to chuckle and chortle about the idiocy of the armies of do-gooders who buy paperback frac-a-watt devices; of course we do! Because the banality, the quantitative banality of the measures is so mind numbing. Yet, like my brother in law who has a insanely tricked out speedboat, IT IS A HOBBY, and a fairly harmless one at that.

Let’m sell frac-a-watts. No one’s going to go starving.

GoatGuy

Bruce Cobb

It is way more than just a hobby. Make no mistake, they want to force this on everyone, through state and local government, and eventually, they hope, national. These people are as relentlessly delusional as they are clueless about economics and energy.

sumdood

I agree that the save the earth and clean energy adherents have a hobby, I dated a woman who was constantly looking for new ways to recycle things that have no economic value such as styrofoam. I told her there is no point in attempting to recycle styrofoam as it has no value and therefore no one would accept it.
She found a place in Massachusetts that accepts styrofoam and we took the styrofoam there while on a ski trip to New England (we live in Tennessee). The problem with the recyclers is they are trying to force us to take up their hobby. No one is trying to force me to buy a speedboat.

Greg

I agree, it’s a moralistic crusade. People who never have the balls or the personality to tell anyone else what to do face to face, have found a way they think they can tell others what to do from the safety of their Apple tap-pad thingies.

All the save-the-world, it’s for our grandchildren crap is just so they can cast anyone who does not agree as a totally selfish bastard, sociopath.

The mutton are trying to play the virtual wolf. The twitter warriors.

moralistic crusading is more than a hobby , it’s a vocation !!

schitzree

If they were content to keep it a hobby then I would have no problem with their craziness. But they’re not. The quoted article itself declared their intent to force this on everybody through their infiltration of government and other bodies.

And you shouldn’t be surprised. This is what they do and how they do it.

~¿~

Eventually people will get tired of the banality of all this, but until then we can only quietly chuckle.

Twobob

Yes!
Ruby laser back in the sixties.

gnomish

Brawndo had block-chain!

Gamecock

‘What I dislike most about renewables, aside of course from the fact they don’t work as a general power solution, is the assumption enthusiasts embrace of a future of scarcity. Who in their right mind would trade fractions of a kilowatt hour with their neighbours, if there was a plentiful supply of energy?’

I am reminded of the Ronald Reagan-Jimmy Carter debate. Carter asserted that only government can manage scarcity fairly. Reagan said, “Screw that! We’re America; we’ll just make more!”

Unfortunately wasting time and money on stupid stuff is what we do as a society.

Chris

Nice story, except that US oil production declined during Reagan’s time in office – it was lower at the end of his 8 year term than when he became President.

john

There is no “safe space” with wind turbines:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=513506242355273&id=100010877041625

h/t Ric

Attn: mods, could you insert video in this post if it doesn’t do so automatically? Thanks.

[Facebook login link? .mod]

TA

Solar panels on a person’s roof are ok. Bird-killing windmills are unacceptable.

I would love to be able to power my entire home with solar panels. Get completely off the grid. I would do it in a minute if it were affordable and would get the job done without a whole lot of hassle. That time has not yet come.

“Solar panels on a person’s roof are ok”
As long as my tax dollars aren’t paying for it

Ian W

And Matthew W – that is the problem. Those with solar panels on their roofs get ‘feed in tariff’ payments from the electricity company after edicts from the politicians. The electricity company then raises their tariffs to pay for this unwanted outlay, and the increase leads poorer customers to have to choose between heating and eating. A really cold winter results in thousands of deaths of the elderly poor because of these increased electricity bills to pay the rich with a roof full of PVs their feed in tariff. By all means go off grid, but don’t charge the rest of us for your self indulgence.

nc

Why do you to get off the grid? Do you stay off the roads? They are part of a grid.

When solar arrays are shown, they always seem to be in long stretches which, if they track the sun at all, can do so only in one axis (up & down). Why are they not smaller expanses which can be on two axes? It would seem to me that for the big expense of the arrays, being able to gather maybe 50% more energy would more than pay for the tracking mechanism.

I read recently about a company which made 8 x 16 meter mirror arrays and got the price down to $100 per square meter (if you bought MANY arrays). In Arizona, they average 6 KwH of sun per square meter per day year-round. With 2 axis tracking, that could make it up to 9 or 10 KwH per day. It shouldn’t take a whole lot of efficiency to have a decent payback period. (No, I’m not planning to try it out, but it’s an interesting mental gymnastic.)

An 8×16 meter solar array is larger than the average roadside billboard.

On timber stick-and-frame house roofs – even assuming there are no nearby trees, gardens, or houses! – the average roof cannot support even a 2×2 meter rotating solar array. 1×1 meter solar arrays “might” be an allowable load for a rotating solar array, but only out of wind restriction areas that limit roof truss forces to prevent damage in high winds. (Northeast area gets winter storms, midwest and plains get too high a wind loading, the east coast and gulf coasts (hurricanes), the far west can get the summer winds and storms – plus the earthquake shaking forces from the added mass swaying back and forth. )

Even a low, parallel to the roofline, fixed position solar array causes roof-mounting leaks and load questions. They can be solved (or minimized really), but large rotating controlled arrays are very expensive to make, control, design, install, and maintain.

And ALL solar array (fixed, flat, or aligned and controlled) require unobstructed solar “views” – to get even the 6 hours per day average power that is theoretically available. Not 12, only 6 hours of usable power per day on a clear day.

Retired Kit P

So setting your house on fire is okay? I call PV systems smoke emitting diodes.

“Solar panels on a person’s roof are ok”

Solar panels on a building present several challenges to firefighters. One challenge is that they present an energized electrical service on the roof that is not easily shut down. They also present electrical hazards to firefighters working on the roof, as well as in the building, while at the same time presenting a potential ignition source.

menicholas

“A really cold winter results in thousands of deaths of the elderly poor because of these increased electricity bills to pay the rich with a roof full of PVs their feed in tariff.”

GMAFB!
You are just making that up off the top of your head.

menicholas

Neo, that quote was from years go.
Solutions have been implemented.

menicholas

Bob, I am surprised to that there is not more interest in tracking units for PV arrays.
Mostly this is done on larger systems, but the efficiency savings are there for all applications.
The thing that prevents it for most people is that they must put them on their roof, and so they are square footage limited, and tracking units require mounting on risers, which brings with it a whole bunch of issues.
For a home rooftop installation, it is doubtful tracking can be made to pay off, and as cells get even cheaper, this is likely to become more true.

menicholas

As usual, whenever PV is brought up, we have the scoffers show up.
We see the same thing with all kinds of new tech.
I hear people badmouth using LED lighting, reading off a litany of complaints that they memorized ten years ago as if nothing has changed since then.
There are even people who scorn anyone who has a flat screen TV or a smart phone.
After a while, they all start to sound like the people who warned everyone of the suckers rally in the stock market in 2009, and have kept their money in gold ever since.

Earthling2

I use my old 10’ C Band Sat dish mechanism for tracking East to West in 1 hour increments. That was free, except for a $20 timer. And some time wiring it up. I manually adjust azimuth according to season, so not a big hassle and no adjustment for 6-7 weeks at Solistice. Efficiency greatly improved. Only a 1 Kw array for a dedicated UPS, on some lead acid batteries, and some pure sine wave invertors that run all my sensitive electronics and computers semi independently of my larger grid connected net metering from small hydro.

As for actually selling electrons to neighbours, that is a paper trading exercise. Electrons on the same circuit on a grid are used at the closest source in real time at nearly the speed of light. No way to tell your electrons to go to Bob’s house down the block where he thinks he is buying your electrons since they go to George’s house next door first. So that is sort of a useless dishonest exercise in BS marketing.

Earthling2

If I had any bitcoin, I would definitely convert that at the speed of light to Gold, and leave it in Gold. Just can’t believe there is anyone out there stupid enough to believe bitcoin is actually anything. Musical chairs, and some will get rich for sure, but that is as dishonest as snake oil, and so are the people promoting it. I’ll take Gold and keep it and I guarantee that when bitcoin fails, you will have nothing and I will have oriningal purchasing power, plus inflation, over a 1000 years if need be.

TA

“Why do you [want] to get off the grid? Do you stay off the roads? They are part of a grid.”

It’s called being self-sufficient. Off the grid to me means I don’t have politicians and bureaucrats trying to run my life when it comes to power consumption.

D. J. Hawkins

@menicholas

Neo, that quote was from years go.
Solutions have been implemented.

No, they haven’t. The NEC now requires PV array shutoffs, but that only solves the problem of current going into the inverter or tie point. Every panel on the roof is a little generator, waiting for the fireman’s ax to close a circuit on a single panel or, if you’re really lucky, a 400 – 600 volt DC string. Huzzah. The only way to shut down a PV panel on a bright sunny day is to throw a tarp over it.

Alternatively, you can require all fires at residential, commercial, or industrial locations with PV arrays happen only at night. /sarc

Bill Powers

A picture is worth a thousand wind turbines

Sheri

For decades, “save energy” has been pushed as “saving the planet”. IF we can save the planet by changing out light bulbs, we are NOT in trouble. These “ideas” are scams to placate people’s egos and gulity feelings while their lights and heat are destroyed by the overlords who live in comfort. It’s the same theory as tossing a treat out on the floor for a dog, who runs for the treat and you take his food away while he’s gone. At one time, I actually thought people were smarter than that. Evidence has proven me wrong on that point.

john

An inconvenient truth: Al Gores $30,000 electric bill….(I bet taxpayers footed that one).

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/GlobalWarming/story?id=2906888

menicholas

Sheri, who has destroyed anyone’s light and heat?

F. Leghorn

Ask the Aussies.

Retired Kit P

Sheri

Conserving energy is an old conservative Republican idea. Turn the lights off when you leave the room.

The modern left wing gilt trip thing comes from the California anti-nuke campaigns that resulted in thing like Title 24.

As a mechanical engineer I can tell you that code requirement for relief on hot water heaters is important for safety. Limiting window area and shower flow have nothing to do with safety.

There are no longer any dangerous or dirty power plants in the US. Regulation require and actual performance shows that producing power is very safe and has insignificant environmental impact.

So enjoy using energy, that is not wasting it.

Don Perry

Let those guys in their Mediterranean climate, where they can tolerate shortages of electricity for cooling, move here to northern Illinois and see how long they’ll like power shortages for heat. They wouldn’t last long here in winter without a reliable supply.

rbabcock

Northern Illinois .. how about here in North Carolina where we are having our coldest night in decades and my NG furnaces are running full blast? At least I have a south facing house with a lot of glass and the Sun is finally helping warm the house.

Last night was calm and bitter cold so windmills and solar panels would have let me freeze to death. Thank goodness for the nuclear plant about 25 miles from my house and the NG pipelines bringing in all that natural gas at reasonable prices.

Sara

Agreed! This phrase: “you could save money by letting his system cycle down your devices when the network is low on power….” — well, it caught my eye.

First of all, I don’t want my fridge cycled down, period, or the freezer I bought for extra storage. I shouldn’t even have to worry about that. Besides that, in a low power period, I have the option of using a gas-powered generator to keep the electricity levels running on normal. I can buy more efficient appliances, yes, but frankly, where I live in northeastern Illinois, 4 miles west of Lake Michigan, I really don’t want to find that the furnace won’t run because someone else is using too much of the neighborhood energy.

This is a very stupid, very bad idea.

MarkG

“This is a very stupid, very bad idea.”

Not if you’re a manufacturer of ‘smart’ devices.

Silicon Valley used to produce useful things. Today it mostly just sells ads and produces things that people only buy because the government forces them to. Even modern computers are mostly made in Asia and only designed there; and, as recent CPU bugs have shown, they’re not designed very well any more, either.

The sooner the whole thing collapses, the better.

menicholas

“The sooner the whole thing collapses, the better.”

???
The “whole thing”?
What do you mean by that?
It sounds like you mean our civilization or our industrial/technology based economy.
Is that right?

HotScot

Sara

As far as I’m aware, my Samsung fridge freezer cycles itself down without any outside intervention. I’m sitting beside it as I type, and there’s not a sound coming from the compressor or anything else. It’s also very well insulated so the compressor runs infrequently.

I’m pretty sure your fridges and freezers are the same. I can’t think of anything that would benefit from external intervention. Our central heating system is thermostatically controlled so keeps the house at a comfortable temperature I determine.

Our computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones all automatically power down when not used, our TV and digital box all shut down completely after an hour of use unless we stop them following an on-screen prompt.

When we’re not using our washing machine, it’s switched off, as is the tumble dryer, if they are on we are washing and/or drying clothes. We use neither when we’re sleeping as we have a small Victorian cottage and can hear the sloshing of the W/M and the clunking of the dryer which disturbs our slumbers. The dishwasher is also switched off when not in use. When we cook, we switch the cooker on, otherwise, it’s off, similarly our electric kettle and microwave.

So as you say, it’s a very stupid, very bad idea, it’s also entirely unnecessary and impractical.

But it does represent socialist central control. Which is a very, very bad idea.

F. Leghorn

menicholas on January 7, 2018 at 11:16 am
“The sooner the whole thing collapses, the better.”

???
The “whole thing”?
What do you mean by that?
It sounds like you mean our civilization or our industrial/technology based economy.
Is that right?

Um, no. That’s what will happen if you eco-people get your way.

Chris

“Today it mostly just sells ads and produces things that people only buy because the government forces them to. ”

Clearly written by someone who knows little about the Silicon Valley.

David Cage

Solar energy for cooling is fine as teh more solar energy you get heating you excessively the more cooling you get. Solar energy for heating the reverse is true. The colder the day and here that equates to overcast as well with little or no wind and often freezing fog the less energy you get when you most need it.

John Robertson

Too right.
The “solutions” to energy delusions remind me of the early home computers, the satisfaction you felt for getting it to do any function,disguised the fact you had done nothing useful at all.
Now with computing the problem was the solution, software.

With energy I see no correlation.To step from reliable on demand base load to what?
Use when available?
How these so called techies can be so ignorant amazes me, refridgeration,hot water and flush toilets as we know them depend on cheap convenient energy.

What is the computing power of a system that can and will be powered down at whims of weather and time of day?
When you consider the time and energy that went into creating uninterruptable power supplies..The now ubiquitous UPS, specifically because of the computer..

Will it take full system crashes to wake these children up?
Knocking out cellphone transmission for just half an hour has them in a tizzy, yet the attitude remains unchanged..Water comes from the TAP,food from the SUPERMARKET and electricity from the WALL SOCKET..Failure of any of these results in weird rituals at these “outlets”, indicating how detached from reality these adult children are.

SMC

Last time I checked, Brooklyn isn’t located in Silicon Valley…

Greg

don’t try to spoil a good rant by using facts ! They probably mean Brookly, CA 😉

Never let a good rant go to waste. But seriously, since the are in Brooklyn, NY, that just puts them in the Northern Illinois weather zone already.

All this fun stuff is cool’n’all, but they’re still presuming the presence of The Grid for when those solar cells aren’t producing. Getting back to the speedboat-as-hobby concept, I’m pretty sure that everyone knows BOAT stands for “Break Out Another Thousand.” No one buys a boat for its efficiency for everyday travel. But these solar people are serious.

jorgekafkazar

The base article mentions that small scale renewables are the new Silicon Valley. They’re making a metaphor, a figure of speech. This article has nothing to do with Silicon Valley.

wilt

Maybe the company should be renamed LOL 3

Resourceguy

This sounds like the digital version of the Vermont alt currency village barter trading scheme. Whatever happened to that? It feeds into that mindset.

Gary Pearse

Millennial journalists are almost unintelligible. Fortunately they are also wordy so eventually, persevering onwards, I think I got what was being said. Tech is in a long transition from a welfare economy to having to work hard for a living (leaving no time for politics hopefully). They showed, outside of their dexterity with electrons, a remarkable moron level of intelligence when they thumbed their noses at Trump and expressed unwavering allegiance to a dead party (dead until someone is eventually born and recreates an American style party that is out of the grasp of hard-wired global elite [in a post normal sense]).

Walter Sobchak

Would engaging in the transactions described in FP make you a public utility subject to regulation by your state’s public utilities commission?

Keith

They are not advocating for selfless tinkers. They are advocating citizen pressure placed on government to create mandates for moon beams.

“…but states can do a lot. California already has, for instance, by creating quotas for renewables. So even if you can’t afford this stuff yourself, you should pressure state and local officials to ramp up their solar energy use. It’ll give us all a boost of much-needed cheer.”

In the interior of northern New England temperatures have dropped nightly into the minus 20’s and 30’s creeping above zero for a day or two during the last two weeks. These are not unusual temperatures here. There are few options to heat houses in these temperatures- burning wood, propane or oil. Firewood is the heating fuel of choice being half the cost of propane and oil per million BTU’s. Continuous power is required to run fans and circulator pumps during the coldest parts of the day between midnight and 8 AM. Solar power cannot accomplish that requirement with only 3-4 sunny days of 9 hours of daylight in December and January let alone during the extended periods of darkness. Most of the solar panels in the area were coated with freezing rain followed by snow three weeks ago and are still coated with 4-6″ of snow and ice and are not generating power. It is so cold and icy no one wants to go out to try to scrape them off.

Don K

“Most of the solar panels in the area were coated with freezing rain followed by snow three weeks ago and are still coated with 4-6″ of snow and ice and are not generating power. It is so cold and icy no one wants to go out to try to scrape them off.”

Same here. I’ve been meaning to take a picture, but there aren’t a lot of home solar panels here in the Champlain Valley and the ground has been too cold for the dog to walk on, so I haven’t made it the quarter mile to the panels I want to photograph.

BTW, the temp here has climbed 20F in the past ten hours. Just went through 0F headed up Yippee.

I would point out that most roofs around here are fairly steeply pitched in order to minimize snow buildup. We average something over 80 inches a year. No one in their right mind is going to go up on a steeply pitched roof to clear snow/ice off solar panels. People can, and do, get hurt clearing snow off roofs on the fortunately rare occasions when there is no other choice,.

Jeanparisot

So, I could plug that box into a diesel genset and sell power to my “woke” neighbors when it’s cloudy?

Resourceguy

+10

Like India today

Don K

IMO, the problem here is that Silicon Valley has a “goldrush” world view that covers a timespan between 72 hours and maybe five years. That causes all sorts of problems with security, privacy, and atrocious product quality. But this probably isn’t the place to discuss that. They’re looking for instant riches. Renewables — especially without subsidies — almost certainly aren’t the bonanza they are looking for.

VERY long term, there is probably some value in renewables — especially solar. For the 30% or so of humanity that has the “roofspace” solar will probably eventually provide the prospect of minimal dependence on the power grid. But that depends on the availability of cheap solar panels, massive amounts of dirt cheap storage, and some provision for providing power when the sun simply doesn’t shine (enough) for really long periods of time. That’s many, many decades away I think.

For some idea of how pathetic solar is with today’s technology, I recommend Tom Murphy’s excellent https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/ blog. Most people here probably won’t agree with Murphy’s gloomy assessment of mankind’s energy future. (I don’t fully agree either). But the guy actually manages to run his life largely on solar energy. And he makes measurements and keeps records. However, Murphy lives in a mild climate (San Diego) and even there he barely makes it work. And, he says that even with San Diego’s outrageous electric rates, he barely breaks even on total lifetime costs.

Trebla

Sunday, January 7th. Just watched GPS on CNN.Fareed Zakaria enlightened me about the current cold snap. He says I shouldn’t be fooled by Trump’s assertion that we could “use some gold old global warming”. No, he has it on good authority that the frigid air “may” in fact be due to global warming! Scientists tell him that the increased temperature in the Arctic “may” be destabilizing the polar vortex and “could” be causing an increase in the frequency of cold blasts from the north.So there you have it. It’s simple. Global warming causes global cooling. Who knew!

Russ R.

They re-branded it climate change to cover all cases of bad weather. After you have “adjusted in” a degree or so of warming, you can’t allow people to assume several weeks of 20+*F weather BELOW normal is a reflection on how necessary your adjustments were. They might start looking at the data for themselves, and we all know what a disaster that would be for clima-stocracy.

HotScot

Don K

You’ll like this.

A TED talk by the late Sir David Mackay on the futility of renewables. And he was a committed green.

https://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_renewables

Willard

Take a look at RedOx Power Systems. Some big tech companies are making certain that they are not left high and dry, if they must operate under renewable energy conditions.

https://www.redoxenergy.com/

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/microsoft-makes-a-crazy-bet-on-fuel-cells-to-feed-power-hungry-data-centers/

https://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/12/f27/fcto_state_of_states_2015.pdf

Sara

I guess those people who propose these quaint ideas don’t live where any of the following happen:

Tornadoes that will destroy/flatten entire towns
Derecheos that will rip up anything in their path and drop it in your neighbor’s yard
Storm sewers that clog when the rain load overwhelms the rivers to the north of them
Washed out bridges that make it impossible for repair trucks to get through
Blizzards that will drop up to 9 feet (Boston 2015) of snow in one storm, making it impossible to even clear the roads, never mind fix downed power lines
Hurricanes that destroy entire infrastructures (Katrina 2005, Sandy 2012, Irma 2017) including bridges and roads
Earthquakes (Japan Tohoku 2011, Hansin, Kobe 1995, Northridge, CA 1994)

Naw, none of those things have anything to do with them. It’s all from the Good Idea Fairy, you see. But they can dream, can’t they?

menicholas

Sara, Boston in 2015 had nine feet of snow, yes.
But it was not in one storm, it was in one season, consisting of Fall, Winter and Spring.
Please tell me what “entire infrastructure Irma or Katrina or Sandy destroyed?
With your attitude and sufficient handwringing and exaggeration, we might all just as well toss in the towel and go back to living in mud huts and hunting and gathering.

Wharfplank

Global Warming and Climate Change are the fence posts and barbed wire that will be used to corral humanity.

Resourceguy

Kinda like Venezuela today.

HotScot

Resourceguy

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 – you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.” – Christiana Figueres, fromer Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Born: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen, Aug 7, 1956, San José, Costa Rica
Political party: National Liberation Party
Spouse(s): Konrad von Ritter (former World Bank executive, owner of WEnergy Global Pte Ltd http://www.wenergyglobal.com).

So Ms. Figueres want’s to change the economic development model, that has evolved through time, to another, ‘designer’ economic model which like all designed economic models, will fail, because the public isn’t involved, and doesn’t want it.

This deluded woman hasn’t the common sense to understand that Communism and Socialism are designed economic models that take no account of public preference, so eventually the public rises up and destroys them.

In the meantime, her campaigning probably serves her husband very nicely.

joelobryan

For thousands of years, brotherhoods of monks and sisterhoods of nuns have locked themselves away in monasteries to endure a lifetime of scarcity and deprivation in obseiance to their religious beliefs of piety and humble before their deity.
They have daily rituals, some even ascribe to total silence and only reading or transcribing ancient texts by hand day after day.

So I say let the Silicon Valley climate alarmistsand renewable energy faithful go about their lifetimes of self-imposed pieties and life of energy scarcity and deprivations. Religion is a powerful control of the human mind. And climate change belief certainly qualifies as religion.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will advance humanity much as the Renaissance left the dark ages of the European religious zealots behind.

drednicolson

Without the classical works and other “ancient texts” that those monasteries and convents preserved, there may well not have been a Renaissance.

The Muslims also retained a good portion of the Greco-Roman body of knowledge, which Europe “rediscovered” during the Crusades.

Two historical cases of religious zealotry enabling the advancement of (European) humanity.

joelobryan

I did not say their lives were without purpose or usefulness. Just that they were willing to endure scarcity while civilization moved on arou d them. Their contributions to preservi g ancient texts only came decades or centuries later. Their piety to their God paid dividends to future generations that had nothing to do with their religion itself.

Silicon Valley and an energy deprivation may paradoxically turn out exactly that way too.

MarkW

All of the leading lights of the Renaissance were as you call them “religious zealots”
BTW, when it come to religious intolerance, no one takes a back seat to atheists.

“Trump’s band of climate deniers aren’t likely to be buyers of first resort for clean energy, but states can do a lot. California already has, for instance, by creating quotas for renewables. So even if you can’t afford this stuff yourself, you should pressure state and local officials to ramp up their solar energy use. It’ll give us all a boost of much-needed cheer.”

I think we have a leading candidate for “the most counter-intuitive claims in a single thought. Trump doesn’t have a band. There are no climate deniers. Quotas work. The State can afford collectively what individuals cannot. Silicon Valley needs support. I’m sure i missed a few.

whiten.

I am bit confused….how could any one sell and buy energy to his neighbors ?!!
Is that legal or allowed in USA?

Sounds like worse than wild wild west!

cheers

Resourceguy

It’s California, if you have the right connections and affiliations.

whiten

Oh, I see.

Back to the wilderness…:)

Earthling2

This story was all BS. Even with Net Metering, you couldn’t individually sell certain neighbours electrons and verify it with block chain. I think Eric is just messin’ with us, testing out his ‘marketing’ skills.

Karl

“New York state has recently amended its net metering laws. Prosumers will soon be able to choose how their solar production is accounted for. Options include selling that production within a peer-to-peer energy market, storing the energy in a battery located on or off site, or continuing to use the energy to offset your own consumption.”

https://www.brooklyn.energy/bmg-101

It’s a grid that operates in parallel to the main grid — and with the deregulation of power sales by New York (net-metering, battery storage, offset from main utility, and peer to peer sales,) you can sell power to whomever you wish.

Earthling2

Yeah, well then you would need a separate power cable A- B if you want your electrons going directly to someone down the block. Other than that, it is strictly a paper shuffling exercise. Think about it for 2 seconds and you will see why.

Yirgach

A lot of this crap is caused by the “doing it because we can” attitude.
Not because we need it.

You see this moronic approach in user interfaces all the time.
Constant violations of The Law of Least Surprise.

Why not extend it to everything else one interfaces with, just because you can?

It is a plague carried by the inexperienced and uneducated and inflicted on common sense.

drednicolson

Left entirely to their own devices, programmers will create a software UI ideally suited for programmers but very unsuitable for any other kind of end user. This is why in much software development, UI design for the general end user may have an entire team all to itself.

Yirgach

This is why in much software development, UI design for the general end user may have an entire team all to itself.

Exactly. That was my point. Why do you think M$, ApL, OpenSource, etc produce such crappy interfaces to interface with the underlying crappy code?
Too many people spending too much time in meetings infecting others with their crappy memes.
It is a disease infecting the entire world view.

Karl

If I can sell my time to an employer, my cpu cycles to a cryptocurrency mining pool, who the hell are you to tell me I shouldn’t be able to sell my excess energy production from a rooftop solar system?

Tejas

“AI learns to be racist.”

CLIVE THOMPSON must not know what racism means.

c1ue

The biggest problem with the idea is the it involves blockchain.
Clearly the author ( as well as the startup ) are hypesters rather than technically oriented, because they would then understand that the electricity used up in calculating and maintaining blockchain is likely more than is being transmitted (if we’re talking sub-kwh or even single digit kwh).

whiten

c1ue
January 7, 2018 at 11:47 am

The biggest problem with the idea is the it involves blockchain.
———————

If I happen to have a good enough understanding of blockchain…than I would say:
” The biggest problem with the idea is that it involves Criptocurrency (mining) which happens to be coupled with blockchane…. and tied to some cryptocoin exchange system” 🙂

cheers

Karl

@ c1ue

says someone who doesn’t really understand blockchain tech

The current Ethereum block is solved every 15 seconds — do you actually think the ether net can only prosecute 1 transaction every 15 seconds??

There is no requirement that each single power transfer contract be a single gas transaction (ether). There can be a contract written into the blockchain that contains multiple contracts and transfers of value , and multiple (hundreds) of transactions (from around the world) comprise a block– the transaction cost to solve the new block is spread across all transactions and contracts that comprise that block.

A contract to sell 200 kWh of solar for $30 to a neighbor (or a set of neighbors) written into the blockchain could literally cost a few cents to execute as part of a larger bundled contract written into the ethereum blockchain.

mike back on the west side of the Range of Light.

Renewable Energy — I like that description. There is about 50 windmills at least in Puerto Rico that needs to be renewed. They all stopped turning on Sept 20th coincident with the arrival of a storm called Maria. They haven’t turned since. You see then in Santa Isabel and over near Naguabo. They all sit in a hot tropical environment within 1 mile of the sea shore so get lots of salt in the air intake daily. Over in Humacao, a very large field of solar panels was turned into a glass disaster area. Probably about 500 to 1000 damaged large panels. Needs renewing big time. Please send money.

mike back on the west side of the Range of Light.

There are, there are, I know I know

How can these geniuses waste time trying to fix a non-existent problem with no visible means of support? Who is ponying up the dough? I suspect another government program. Drain the swam!

michael hart

As far as I can tell, the company just looks like they’re into energy trading, with no real interest in solar, wind or whatever.

It brings Enron back to mind. The green electricity ‘vision’ is largely just about restricting supply of a product (electricity) with a fairly inelastic demand. This is, of course, an excellent way to drive up prices and rake in the profits, whatever generation method is employed, and they want a piece of the action

The Wired article’s inane drivel just looks like the author is pressing the journalistic climate-buttons perceived as normal in these circumstances. Hence the keywords and concepts such as: “clean energy”, then words disparaging coal, “Trump’s band of climate deniers”, “climate-change denialism in Washington”, and not forgetting “Nazis in social media streams”. I think the article may have originally been intended as a bit of undeclared advertising but the author doesn’t appear to firmly grasp what the company’s products are, or how they function, so he just wrote a sort of op-ed piece instead.

Retired Kit P

Menicholas writes, “As usual, whenever PV is brought up, we have the scoffers show up.”

Of course, I worked in the power industry for over 40 years and yet to find a good reason for using solar instead of other power sources. So Menicholas, give me your one best good reason for solar.

“We see the same thing with all kinds of new tech. I hear people badmouth using LED lighting, reading off a litany of complaints that they memorized ten years ago as if nothing has changed since then. There are even people who scorn anyone who has a flat screen TV or a smart phone.”

For good reason, new is not the same as better. For example, electronic ignition is now much better but many systems were unreliable when new in the 70s.

Just returned an electric blanket we bought in September anticipating cold weather. My wife said she thought she smelled smoke. The controller on my side of the bed smelled of smoke was coming from it. About 25% of the reviews identified this problem dating back to 2011. More research found that fires had occured. The new tech controller looked better but is not better.

Menicholas does not understand the fundamental difference between using power and producing power.

In many respects, LEDs are better because they used less power. Less power means less current which means less current, and less heat, and less chance of fire. Light fixtures in our motor home where I replaced the 12 vdc bulb with an LED run 50 degrees F cooler.

I have old tech on/off switches. I have not replaced with LED when the normal position is off.

Our adults kids came home with outdoor LED Christmas lights that were on sale. I measured the power draw. The old string was 40 watts, the new string 1 watt.

As I said, power generation is different. PV is not new tech. It has been around as long as nuclear power. What have we learned from every PV system. It only works part of the time at best.

Retired Kit P

Earthing2 could you provide a link to your permit. I sure I can find a technical detail to take out of context to get a judge to shut you down.

“It’s called being self-sufficient. Off the grid to me means I don’t have politicians and bureaucrats trying to run my life when it comes to power consumption.”

It is called living someplace where it is too expensive to bring in a power line. If you want to be self sufficient sit in the dark at night. When you generate power you are at the mercy of politicians and bureaucrats.

Karl

@ Kit

No you couldn’t you have no standing to challenge his permit

Retired Kit P

I suspect that Karl does not have a permit.
The reason I say this is three fold. Accomplished people are proud of their accomplishment. Second, the cost of a permit is prohibitive. Third having standing or not having standing is something an administrative decides.

Earthling2

I am proud of my accomplishments but by your words you would have a judge shut me down. And others would cause me material harm. And yet others would have my head on a stake…

Sparky

“California already has, for instance, by creating quotas for renewables. So even if you can’t afford this stuff yourself, you should pressure state and local officials to ramp up their solar energy use. ”

But California has a weird definition that ‘excludes’ large hydroelectricity that anyone in their right mind would say is ‘renewable’ albeit it variable. California also drives major COST SHIFTING from poor to rich by driving ‘net metering’ for solar causing the retail cost of electricity near those in Germany — 30 – 39c/kWh last time i looked (Sept). Soon we’ll be talking about the “power poor” class where people will not be able to heat or cool their homes in vast portions of California. Crazy place.

Payback for Solar in PGE land is 6yrs if you HAVE CAPITAL ($20,000 – $30,000 to shell out). Net-metering sends you the poor’s calif-tax dollars every year for at least 25years. The biggest retail users (the 1%) benefit the most from this green-scam. I did it. Smiling all the way to “Sun-Bank”.

Sparky

correction,.. not really the ‘poor’s tax dollars’,.. more like sending my their electricity bill payments which is a ‘covert (indirect) policy tax’ nonetheless.

Retired Kit P

Do you have some reason to think the system will still be working for 6 years?
I figured out a way to make money with PV after reading the incentives provided by my state at the time.
Buy a broken system on ebay. After it is all installed and permit sighed off, back feed grid power to the PV system taking advatage of $2k/yr incentive.
If you can do the time, do not do the crime.