Tag Archives: energy

Chris Christie sells out to the car dealers and hurts consumers, blocks Tesla’s direct sales model

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Why in the world can’t I go to Toyota.com, pick out a new car, customize it, do the financing if need be, and then have it delivered to me in a couple of days? It would save me time, money, and hassle.

The answer: Car dealerships.

They don’t want you or me buying directly from the company even though the cost to me and you would likely be considerably lower. Dealerships make their money on the markup and they are not interested in just closing up shop even if their entire business model is completely outdated. So the dealers have gone to the state governments in an effort to ban direct sales. Sadly for us they have been successful in some places.

Take for instance the regulations New Jersey just approved.

(From The Wall Street Journal)

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a rule change Tuesday that would require auto retailers to have a franchise agreement with an auto manufacturer to be granted a license to sell cars in the state.

Tesla owns its stores, selling directly to consumers, something that dealer groups in New Jersey and other states have fought, primarily through legislation.

A Tesla executive said the move amounts to a “death penalty” to its auto retail outlets in New Jersey and could encourage regulators in other states to follow suit.

The rule, which deals with the licensing of auto dealers, would require that a person have a franchise agreement with an auto manufacturer to be granted a license.

Tesla’s vice president of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell, said during a conference call Tuesday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration “abrogated” an agreement to hold off action on the proposal by the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission.

Click here for the article.

Why A Decentralized, Digital Economy Is A Magnet For Innovation

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Decentralized, open sourced economic action is the way forward. Instead of the centralized and highly hierarchical economic models of the 20th Century, the 21st Century (or at least much of the 21st Century) will be defined by organic and evolving economic activity.
Continue reading Why A Decentralized, Digital Economy Is A Magnet For Innovation

Innovation Is the Only Way Forward

We at The Future 500 believe absolutely in the idea that innovation, constant innovation, is a key element to the 21st Century. Those who embrace the chaos of innovation and the the order of disorder will succeed, some beyond their wildest dreams. Those who do not will be left behind. This goes for countries, companies, and individuals. Create and think, or don’t. But the second option is not going to be a pleasant one.

Click here for the article.

If the US went carbon neutral tomorrow, China’s output would make up for it in 3.5 years

Tech planet Journal is project of The Future 500. The Future 500 works closely with Rich and Liz Muller on global warming issues and the best ways to address the challenge.

The most pressing issue as Dr. Muller sees things is that China and India already eclipse the USA in carbon footprint and will only continue to expand this footprint if fracking is not introduced on a wide scale in China.

They argue that we have the know-how and that on some scale we should help China develop this technology more fully.

We are well aware of the issues surrounding fracking, however, it increasingly looks like for the issue of global warming to be addressed fracking will have to be embraced. Solar, wind, and other renewables are too expensive for the market in the developing world for the most part. In the developing world they are complete pipe dreams. They are far too expensive. Aside from some very high profile bits of tech highlighted by the PRC very little Chinese energy comes from renewables – or will anytime soon. Fracking is the only viable option if we want to reduce global carbon output.

Click here for the a video of Rich and Liz Muller discussing this issue.

Digital Energy May Prove the Cheapest Energy of All

How are we going to deal with the ever increasing energy demands of a growing global population?

As the developing world comes increasingly into the 21st Century, the demands of these people for a better way of life, what has been an energy intensive way of life, will only increase.

This (if nothing changes) will increase instability across the planet. Our world doesn’t need too much more of that.

Then how do we solve this problem? How do we make the good life available to hundreds of millions of new people without completely destroying everything?

The CEO of The Future 500 (of which TPJ is a part) Bill Shireman, thinks that at least part of the solution lay in innovation. We must do more with less. We must become more efficient to prosper in the 21st Century. This really is the only option.

Click here for THE NEXT ECONOMY by Bill Shireman.

Come Correct: 100 Quotes on Innovation

Innovation is what will drive a cleaner more efficient society. It is the continued development of technology, IT, transport, and energy where the low hanging (in relative terms) “green” fruit is.

So much emphasis is placed on a complete (and quick) revolution in energy and other parts of the economy. But revolutions often come at the margins over time. It is the innovators who are the world’s productive revolutionaries. Some inspiration for you.

From The Huffington Post

1. “I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

2. “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead

3. “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

4. “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering

5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

6. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

7. “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

8. “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

9. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung

10. “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

Click here for the next 90.

From lemons to lemonade: Reaction uses carbon dioxide to make carbon-based semiconductor

Potential energy game changers are popping up all over all over. This one looks particularly promising for a number of reasons.

(From Phys.org)

A materials scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that not only eats up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, it also creates something useful. And, by the way, it releases energy.

Click here for the story.

Digital Energy? First Nuke Plants In 30 Years Approved.

This is a watershed moment potentialy. It’s not clear yet. It has been 34 years since the last OK was given for a new nuke plant.

(From The LA Times)

“Christopher Paine, a nuclear expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the NRC had “abdicated its responsibility” and given up the power to force Southern to adopt new safeguards that are developed as the Fukushima review unfolds.

But Fanning, the Southern chief executive, said the company did not intend to fight future NRC orders to adopt new safety technology. “That’s not how this industry operates,” he said.”

Click here for the story.

We need an Internet of Energy

We Need an Internet of Energy.


We’ve all heard of the “prosumer” -that is the individual who not only consumes goods and services but also creates goods and services or content. Typically the term is used to refer to those who produce online content i.e. in reference to someone who creates a blog or Youtube videos.

In a sense, even if we never create a blog or venture into the Youtube netherworld we are all prosumers. That is the nature of being human. Most human beings both consume and produce in one form or another.

Energy is a place where prosuming is primed to emerge on a large scale.

Right now most of us get our energy from central hubs, power plants of one form or another. Energy is created and then sent out to the hinterlands for us to consume. Our homes are energy endpoints, cul-de-sacs for electrons. We turn on the lights, fire up the AC, wash the dishes, and that energy is used and then seeps out into the broader universe.

This is a very 20th Century way of doing things. More of us must become prosumers of energy.

Some of us already are energy prosumers. I grew up in a house with solar powered hot water. My neighbors down the way have a wind turbine at the top of a pasture hill. There are even those who generate enough energy at times that they have an excess and can then sell the energy back to the grid. Almost anyone with a reasonably reliable stream going through their property can achieve this with an investment in a water wheel.

But too few of us produce energy, largely because it makes limited economic sense.

This will likely remain the fact for a good while. Utilities can use economies of scale, have long established networks, and so on, which makes micro-production less attractive.

To be clear this is not necessarily a bad thing. Like it or not inexpensive energy is vital to a healthy economy.

But there is a market currently for relatively small scale energy production and it is within this market that new solutions will come.

For far too long the debate around the “alternative” energy space has been dominated by the discussion of subsidies. It certainly makes sense that this is the case. Germany for instance has built an entire “green” energy industry around such subsidies. The Chinese are working on it too (in a relatively limited way, they love coal fired plants.) But in the end these subsidies are not sustainable, not to mention they put the current, and very powerful producers of energy on notice. For many powerful interests the energy debate has become a zero sum game. Green wins, and old energy loses. Powerful forces are not inclined to let this happen.

Some within the green energy movement have no problem with this. They are out to crush the old producers of energy and old ways of producing it. They have no problem fighting a nasty war to end the use of coal or nukes. As such they have thrown their lot in with the state. Government is the only thing that can compel the marketplace to be “responsible” in their eyes.

Many want a revolution in energy to happen overnight, last night if possible.

I would argue that this is the wrong way to look at the problem. It makes much more sense to encourage entrepreneurs to solve energy problems on a micro scale (and macro sale where it makes sense) and in the creation of an Internet of Energy.

There are 2 main problems with getting energy much more green as I see it.

One is the vested interests involved. There is so much money to be made in power plants that the owners (typically share holders) will never give up their cash cow. Most of these share holders are people who own parts of utilities via mutual funds, or via retirement funds because utilities are relatively stable and tend to generate relatively high dividends. So it’s not just the fat cats that want that coal fired plant generating profits, it’s CALPERS, and your grandma too.

The other is a an energy grid that is full of electron cul-de-sacs. The energy is sent out and then consumed. A very small amount is created by energy prosumers and sent back to the grid.

But even when energy is sent back to the grid on a relatively small scale, such as in parts of Europe, this presents other problems. 20th Century electrical grids are really meant to flow one way. With large amounts of energy coming in from potentially millions of sources the current grid would quickly become unstable. What is needed is an Internet of Energy where electricity can flow from where it is being produced via wind, solar, etc. to where it is needed.

This presents an interesting opportunity for the current players in the energy market.

It is unlikely that the current electrical utility companies will get on board with a “green” agenda in any real way if doing so goes against their best interests. Sure greens could engage in a protracted war (as they have) with the utilities and, yes it is possible that one day the green energy folks could emerge victorious (though they have about an equal shot in my estimation.) But in the mean time, and it would likely be decades, the progress that should be made will not be made because both sides are going head to head. There are clear exceptions to this, but for all the platitudes on both sides this is still basically the case.

However if current utility interests had an interest in an Internet of Energy, if for instance they built a piece of a 21st Century grid (since they have much of the expertise) and charged pass through fees on that part of the network that they own/constructed, they might have an interest in forwarding a more sensible energy agenda. Even if the coal fired plant one day died many utilities would still have a way to generate consitant revenue of the kind utility shareholders demand. They would act as a railroad for energy essentially. Oil pipeline companies do this all over the world.

In fact, if it was particularly profitable (and frankly who knows at this point) there is even a chance that over time utilities could become key drivers of energy change.

An Internet of Energy would also encourage entrepreneurs to find new and innovative energy solutions. So long as entrepreneurs knew that there was a ready market, a smart grid on which to effectively unload excess energy created by micro-producers, profitable ventures would emerge. The biggest challenge is the infrastructure. If the big boys take care of that then the smaller operations can get to work.

With an Internet of Energy we can become more sustainable, communities more resilient, we can encourage innovation and create real jobs that are supported by the marketplace not by subsidies, while also encouraging powerful interests to get on board and even become drivers for sensible energy policy.

An Internet of Energy needs to happen, and soon.


Nick Sorrentino 10-26-2011