Monday Jun 08, 2009

Renewable Energy - Get Educated, Involved and Excited

Have you made contributions toward a more ECO friendly environment?  Any and all efforts do make a difference when all added together.  While we have made progress in some areas, it is evident that we need to go faster and stronger.  Stop and think of your own personal carbon footprint.  In other words what are you doing that is causing the emission of greenhouse gasses.  When I look at the picture above it resonates 'clean' (it also indirectly infers Lord of the Rings - "The Eye").

Renewable energy is no longer a passion for environmentalists.  I've taken an interest in wind power.  While driving into Boston on Route 93 South you can see a large wind turbine located on your left by Exit #31.  It is situated in the back of a school which is located right in a neighborhood (look at the center of this Yahoo Map for the small white circle, this is where the turbine now resides) The city where this wind turbine is located is called Medford, the city where I grew up.  Being curious and an engineer, I had to get up close and check out this piece of technology.  First of all this wind turbine is HUGE up close!  Even more amazing was that the turbine was right in a schoolyard and neighborhood.  I could not believe how quiet this turbine was operating.  Given that city life is usually noisy with highways, airports and the close proximity of homes; I didn't think that a wind turbine would be acceptable right in a city.  The blades of the wind turbine look high tech.  They reminded me of the Cold War when submarine propeller technology was top secret.  In fact I believe today's submarines are looking at non propeller propulsion.  Why you ask?  Because a submarine that cannot be heard cannot be detected.  The quieter a propeller provides propulsion the harder it is to detect.  It looks like similar engineering went into the wind turbine blade design.  The wind turbine I was standing right under was relatively very quiet.  I assume the turbine's brain adjusts the blades pitch to accommodate the wind speed and weather conditions.  I believe it must have a wind speed ceiling as well as floor as it is not safe to be operating a wind turbine in a hurricane!

In addition to wind there are other natural renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and hydro energy generation. There are also biofuel alternatives such as ethanol from corn and sugarcane.  With all the advancements in clean energy and the opportunity to keep our planet safe it makes you just want to be green too.

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Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

The World Economy is a Turtle...

One would have to be pretty insulated to be oblivious to all the economic troubles throughout the world.   In the last 2 months I have visited Brazil, China and India and the economic impact in each country is amazing.  A year ago in India I was amazed at the Bombay stock index surge and the feverish pace in Beijing preparing for the Olympics.  Who would have thought back then that in one year things would be completely the opposite.  The credit crunch has hit consumer confidence throughout the world.  Banks are not lending.  Even private equity is hard to come by and the terms are not very attractive.  Consumer spending has decreased significantly.  Have you noticed the price of oil as of late?  Some countries that were surging on oil profits are now unable to sustain their economy which was built up over the past few years.  Selling out oil futures for the next 12-18 months is not something that is usually done.  There is plenty of energy data out there.  In India and China you can read about government actions to start infrastructure projects in hopes of jump starting their economy once again.  Stock market reaction seems to be driven less on fundamentals and more on the factor of fear.  Fear that nobody knows where is the bottom of the decline.  What is going to cause a turnaround of the confidence of people to start spending once again?  I read that approximately 70% of most economies are driven by consumers.  Another major factor is the credit market for access to cash for businesses.  It's also true that consumers in some countries are addicted to being highly leveraged so they need access to credit to spend again.  The formula for fixing this appears to be pretty simple:

Mend = Lend + Spend

However getting the lend and spend to occur has been one of the hardest problems throughout the world.  Confidence is easy when things are going well, but confidence in difficult times really is something that doesn't come easy.  Private equity and the venture capitalists naturally will get more inflexible during economic contractions.  New funding rounds for startups are probably going to require new lead investors.  Banks throughout the world are not willing to release capital just yet.  Businesses and consumers all feel the contraction.

The world needs to extend it's arms, legs, tail and neck and start slowly walking forward again.  Staying in its shell means no progress regardless of where you may reside.  It really is a world issue to be solved. 


The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.


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