Last week I was fortunate enough to go to Fast Company’s Meeting of the Most Creative Minds conference in Los Angeles. The conference featured several amazingly innovative companies that I will also write about later but my favorite aspect was the other attendees. Most of these companies were based in LA but a few flew from all over the nation (and some even other parts of the world!) and there is one that I cannot get out of my head. BitSource is a company who is breathing life back into a sleepy town in eastern Kentucky. The economy there had heavily relied on the coal industry and had suffered tremendously in the loss. Two former coal miners founded BitSource with a mission to bring back jobs to Appalachia country.
The company offers an array of web development services from programming languages to media and VR design to application development (and much more). The founders knew coal miners to be logic-based thinkers willing to work hard and learn. Afterall, when you’re down in a mine and something breaks, there’s no one to guide them in diagnosing and fixing the problems. Coal mining is a highly technical field that relies more on engineering smarts than on physical labor so they knew the laid-off workforce would be primed to learn code and utilize their technical skills. “Appalachia has been exporting coal for a long time.” says Justin Hall, the company’s president who I met at the conference. “Now we want to export code. We’ve got blue-collar coders.”
Some of their work includes web design for Big Sandy Resources, Inc. a river dredging company. They worked on-site to capture footage and information about the services and materials that they provide. BitSource created the website and features then trained the BSR team so that they could update and manage the site internally and make change on demand when they add a new service, product, or project. Check it out here! BitSource worked with Hashtag Appalachia and Unity to create an augmented reality application that uses artwork on a garage door as a trigger. The trigger can call any animation or content that they specify when you hold up your phone and engage the trigger by pointing it at the artwork. See a video of the project here: https://vimeo.com/214003642 Another great project BitSource completed is for their city, Pikeville, Kentucky. They created infographics, animations, an interactive map and software solutions for the city’s Office of Economic Development. The projects range even further but you’ll have to check them out to learn what other awesome things their up to.
Justin Hall was voted one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business this year and the company is quickly becoming a leader in sustainable redevelopment of our country’s workforce. BitSource provides pragmatic problem-solving, modern project management, and diligent quality assurance and is passionate about their customers. For this and many reasons I wanted to highlight this company.
Aruba, like many countries, is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels for energy. Currently, nearly 85% of the energy is generated by heavy fuel oil but that is going to change. Aruba pledged to transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2020, particularly variable wind and solar.
This 19 mile long island launched it’s Green Gateway Initiative in 2011 at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. With the support of Carbon War Room, an international nonprofit, Aruba created its plan of action beginning with wind farm development, a waste-to-energy plant, and a Airport Solar Park. They are taking the Smart Growth Pathway that addresses many different areas of an expanding economy, such as; eco-tourism, incentives for household retrofitting and commercial energy efficiency, the sustainable agriculture practice known as controlled environment agriculture, urban planning that supports this transition, and investments in innovation. This plan focuses on three components of growth: Energy, Transportation, and the Built Environment with a four-phased approach. As more renewable energy sources are configured into their system, their fossil fuel dependence will decrease.
In order to achieve 100% renewable electricity, Aruba will have to be at the forefront of storage capacity and demand response innovation. Justin Locke, director of the island energy program at the Carbon War Room, says it makes sense for islands to switch to clean power. “Islands currently pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world. At the same time, they also have some of the best renewable energy resources.” Aruba has excellent wind and solar resources. Wind and sun sources are consistently strong, although this kind of energy is “intermittent” which require other sources of energy to be available on standby to make up for fluctuations and spikes in demand. An issue they face is land. The ability to be fossil-free will depend on Aruba’s available land, 180 sq kilometers, and the inevitable investment in more expensive, offshore sources. Another issue is their electricity usage per capita. While renewable energy production strategies make the supply more sustainable, reducing the demand for energy is equally important.
Aruba’s move towards renewable energy can create a significant number of jobs, whether in the production of energy itself, in the retrofitting of the existing building infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy systems and the installation of energy efficiency and conservation measures and systems, and the booming eco-tourism. The job-generating capacity of renewable energy is well documented by several sources, including in a recent working paper by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), “Renewable Energy Jobs: Status, Prospects & Policies”.
As the largest source of economic activity in Aruba, the tourism industry is a particularly important focus for energy efficiency efforts. Almost three-quarters of Aruba’s gross national product is earned through tourism or tourism-related activities, drawing in almost 900,000 visitors to the island annually (Aruba Tourism Authority 2012). As the centerpiece of Aruba’s economy, integrating sustainability efforts across the tourism industry will be vital to the country’s aim of transitioning off fossil fuels. Furthermore, by demonstrating its far-reaching commitment to sustainability, the tourism industry in Aruba can differentiate itself from its island neighbors while insulating the island’s economy from price fluctuations in the cost of imported fuels.
The Government of Aruba aims to balance quality of life and environmentally friendly economic growth through what they call a sustainable and shared prosperity. To achieve these goals, Aruba promotes economic growth, social equity, and environmental awareness through various educational programs and community projects. Aruba has designed an initiative to develop the island as a Green Gateway between Europe and the Americas in the areas of green technology, business support services, and creative industries, which is intended to bring greater economic diversification, stability, growth, and increased sustainability to Aruba.
Thanks to this strong platform and leadership, Aruba has shown strong early progress on the path to true sustainability. Leading our countries in how a low-carbon transformation does not need to hinder the pursuit of an improved quality of life and a healthier economy, but rather that it can power sustainable economic development and prosperity.
BEIJING, July 3, 2016 (Xinhua) — A full solar power vehicle is presented during a ceremony held by Chinese renewable energy company Hanergy Holding Group in Beijing, capital of China, July 2, 2016. Hanergy launched four full solar power vehicles at the ceremony on Saturday. (Xinhua/Cai Yang) (wx)[/caption]
The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday launched its first detailed report of global energy investment, with China singled out for praise. In the first detailed analysis of investment across the global energy system, the IEA reported that global energy investment fell by 8 percent in 2015, with a drop in oil and gas upstream spending outweighing continued robust investment in renewable energies, electricity networks and energy efficiency.
Total investment in the energy sector reached 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2015, down from 2 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014, according to the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2016 report. The new annual report provides a comprehensive and detailed picture of the current investment landscape across fuels, technologies and countries.
It shows that the energy system is undergoing a broad reorientation toward low-carbon energy and efficiency but investment in key clean energy technologies needs to be further ramped up to put the world economy on track for climate stabilisation.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, told Xinhua in an interview: “China’s investment is mainly in the power sector, but China also becomes the largest investor for renewable energies across the world. As such it is a very complimentary number; it shows the Chinese commitment towards climate change and tackling air pollution.
“There is a political commitment and this is the answer in terms of putting the money in low carbon technologies. Renewable energy, energy efficiency but also it is nuclear power as well.”
With energy supply spending of 315 billion U.S. dollars, China was the world’s largest energy investor, thanks to robust efforts in building up low-carbon generation and electricity networks, as well as implementing energy efficiency policies.
Birol said: “China became last year the largest energy investor and this is mainly coming from the renewable energies followed by other sources. China is the largest investor of solar, largest investor in terms of wind technology and also a major investor in terms of hydro power. For renewable energies China is the champion energy investor.”
Investment in the US’s energy supply declined to about 280 billion U.S. dollars, falling nearly 75 billion U.S. dollars because of low oil prices and cost deflation, representing half of the total decline in global energy spending. The Middle East and Russia emerged as the most resilient regions to spending cuts, thanks respectively to lower production costs and currency movements. As a result, national oil companies accounted for 44 percent of overall upstream investments, an all-time high.
Renewable energy investments of 313 billion U.S. dollars accounted for nearly a fifth of total energy spending last year, establishing renewable energies as the largest source of power investment. While spending on renewable power capacity was flat between 2011 and 2015, electricity generation from the new capacity rose by one third, reflecting the steep cost declines in wind turbines and solar photo voltaic. The investment in renewable power capacity in 2015 generates more than enough to cover global electricity demand growth.
Birol said: “These changes have significance for energy security and climate change. Especially for low carbon technologies they show me that government policies can work to provide direction for investment in the markets but much more is needed to meet our climate goals. He added: “After 2015 and 2016 we may see three years in a row, oil investments are declining. We have never seen, in the history of oil, that the investments for oil have declined three years in a row. We expect there will be a decline in 2017.”
NEW YORK What started as a sky-is-the-limit dream for two Swiss explorer/entrepreneurs is now one giant, soaring, fuel-free, #futureisclean reality. Bertrand Piccard (@bertrandpiccard) André Borschberg (@andreborschberg) and their innovative solar plane, Solar Impulse 2, reached a milestone Saturday as it completed a trip across the United States. The solar-powered airplane on a globe-circling voyage that began in the United Arab Emirates more than a year ago.
The Swiss-made plane landed at John F. Kenney International Airport at 4 a.m. after a 4 hour 41 minute flight of about 165 miles from Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania. Its trip across the U.S. mainland began April 24, when Solar Impulse landed in San Francisco from Hawaii.
The aviation industry told them #solarimpulse was an impossible project so they built their own team & found new solutions.
The Ecocapsule (or Eggo-capsule?) is a new form of mini Glamping.
It may not be the prime spot to host a party, but for the chic, pod-dwelling nomads among us, the Ecocapsule is strides beyond a basic shelter and nicer looking than most trailers or RVs. If you’ve ever felt like leaving it all behind, you can live off the grid for up to a year. It’s got a bed, kitchen, bathroom and work area, and a couple windows to let in the breeze. No need to plug into the grid — there’s a wind turbine and bank of solar cells built in to charge a battery for light and heat, and rainwater is filtered and collected into a tank under the floor.
A 750-watt wind turbine and 600-watt solar array collect energy. Assuming outside temperatures stay between -13° and 104°F, the capsule can consistently produce all its own power. A super-efficient climate-control system helps: On its way to the exhaust fan, heated air passes through channels alongside fresh air, warming it up.
Should energy production dip, a 9,744-watt-hour battery holds five days of power. When the battery is charged, the system uses excess energy from the solar cells to heat up water stores, relieving strain on the water heater come shower time.
Rainwater runs down the capsule and through a ceramic filter into a 145-gallon reservoir beneath the floorboards. When full, it can supply two people for three weeks. Electric pumps circulate water through a membrane filter to trap dirt and bacteria en route to the sink and shower; manual foot pumps stand in when energy is low.
Courtesy Nice Architects
A central computer, controlled with a smartphone or tablet, monitors energy and water levels to project how long they’ll last. It’s also hooked up to sensors that record rainfall, humidity, and temperature outside the capsule. In periods with little sun or wind, the computer might suggest adjusting the internal temp or taking shorter showers to stretch the supply.