Posts Tagged ‘resiliency’

REST in Urban Agriculture

As the ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability continues intensifying, and when the price of petrol gets prohibitively expensive for foodstuffs to make their way to the markets, folks will be wishing for an achievable, sustainability developed schema like REST in Urban Agriculture  that includes:

  • hybrid renewable energy systems technology [HREST] for energy generation and capturing moisture from the air via atmospheric water generation
  • water resource management
  • waste management
  • affordable housing
  • access to fresh produce
  • employment opportunities
  • the 5 R’s – resiliency, redundancy, robustness, reliability, repair


Here’s the BIG PROBLEM | Energy literacy is the energy industry’s BIGGEST obstacle

This one is for all the VCs out there.

It’s taken me the better part of a month to draw the following conclusions and reconcile my latest position as a renewable energy ‘evangelist’…

For about ten years now, I have been searching for the lowest common denominators why MASSIVE deployment of renewable energy systems technologies is still not taking place. I have found over this past year that there are a great many empathetic scientists, engineers and economists echoing my sentiments about having a discussion about making fundamental changes in consumption of fossil fuels. And more importantly, that this needs to happen in tandem with deployment of renewable energy systems technologies.

The majority of (Wo)Men want it all, and has hubris that I find utterly confounding, expecting Mother Nature to acquiesce to certain quality of life expectations we have been accustomed w/o having to make sacrifices or change behavior. Indeed, we should do everything what we can to reduce CO2 emissions while implementing more Earth-friendly energy systems technologies. I, however, don’t think we’ll see the change required on a massive scale until everything breaks, HARD.  Hubris and greed are furtive ‘beasts.’ And so…

POINT ONE. I think until energy literacy is heightened, invoking renewable energy systems engineering proactivity on a massive scale is highly unlikely. Right, to foment this change, for at least ten years now, I’ve been suggesting we need guerrilla marketing–because, quite frankly the public’s complete and utter lack of energy literacy is the renewable energy industry’s, and for that matter, conventional energy of CONG’s [coal oil nuclear natural gas] biggest obstacle. The level of ignorance that almost everyone has about energy, such as how electricity gets to their house, or how gasoline gets into their automobile tank, is on par with children who don’t know where a Chicken McNugget comes from, or that manure from grazing animals can be used as fertilizer/compost.

And because governments have a difficult time developing effective policies, voters don’t understand the issues. These issues are exploited for partisan gain, experts are discredited, and so, terrible, terrible decisions are made. Water and power are taken for granted. And so they are considered entitlements, basic human rights–and as I have tried to raise, any heavily regulated company providing these services are despised when they don’t measure up to a certain entitlement expectation.

It’s interesting how some services are glorified (firefighters) and the ones we can’t live without (power linesmen) are ignored, taken for granted–that is, until the power goes out, then customers are angry. I think this is one area where the examination needs to occur, so this shift can evolve in a more pragmatic and prudent direction.

POINT TWO. Another problem is those who don’t understand thermodynamics don’t understand a physical system dealing with kilojoules or kilograms makes things way more difficult than say, working in the infinite space of the internet. And what’s unfortunate is a great deal of the venture capitalists  assumed energy was like the computer science industry. The laws of physics don’t allow the speedy progress we see and have seen in information technology. I was a participant contributing to the development of the web realm back of the days of the dot-com(edy).  The gains in the energy sector, however, come about incrementally. Energy has to be converted to a useful form, er usually electricity or heat, and the amount that can be obtained is limited, set by the laws of thermodynamics.

But let’s not forget the efficiency issue. Gasoline, diesel, LPG (liquified petroleum gas) and natural gas (NG) are efficient, they also contain an energy rich density no single renewable energy systems technology posses, are relatively easy to transport, store in large quantities and use in vehicles or power buildings/processes. I therefore think energy innovation will come about with revolutionary changes in energy extraction, storage, distribution and application. And so…

…at this juncture in time, I see a game changer being the glut of natural gas from tracking shale deposits in the USA. IF, HOWEVER THE GAS CAN BE EXTRACTED WITHOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, THIS COULD BE THE CLOSEST DISRUPTOR FOR THE NEAR TERM FUTURE. 

And so for now, the inertia of fossil fuel dependence continues, as do the escalations of ‘indifference’ of Mother Nature, er climate instability.

Energy is all around us and we consume copious quantities of it. We only question it when it’s expensive or not there. – Energy Abundance vs. the Poverty of Energy Literacy



A timely Dec. 2009 repost — Addicted to Nonsense INDEED! AKA Hubris of the humanities…

I forgot I had started blogging elsewhere before getting ambitious and learning to use WordPress. I thought the following deserved a repost. Not much has changed. *Sigh*

…it happened before in societies that collapsed, it’s going to happen again, I’m afraid. I speak of the Hohokam in AZ in 3BC who, in spite of not raising domesticated animals and only used wood modestly, a life ‘apparently’ based on sustainability, with the increase in population food became scarce, environmental changes, imposition of irrigation strategies/over-farming and social responses, er ‘ceremonial activities’ weakened their system’s resilience and made their system vulnerable to the climate extremes. And the Norse society in Greenland in the 1720s sticking to established patterns, elaborating on its churches and ‘ideological conditioning’ of the population instead of its hunting skills. And so it goes today…

After my mid-20s, I didn’t subscribe to this societal nonsensical crap that’s dished-out on the eeidiot boxes. I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row, and be ready to do what I can to start mopping up the mess that will invariably arrive one of these days in the (dare I say) near future. Unfortunately, there’s going to need to be A LOT of pain, strife and discomfort, before the ship can be up-righted, if that ends-up even being possible.

Chris Hedges offered a rather sobering ‘Addicted to Nonsense‘ account to the consumerism-bent mindset of the sheeople recently…

The juxtaposition of the impossible illusions inspired by celebrity culture and our “insignificant” individual achievements, however, is leading to an explosive frustration, anger, insecurity and invalidation. It is fostering a self-perpetuating cycle that drives the frustrated, alienated individual with even greater desperation and hunger away from reality, back toward the empty promises of those who seduce us, who tell us what we want to hear. The worse things get, the more we beg for fantasy. We ingest these lies until our faith and our money run out. And when we fall into despair we medicate ourselves, as if the happiness we have failed to find in the hollow game is our deficiency. And, of course, we are told it is.

…Many have lost hope. Fear and instability have plunged the working class into profound personal and economic despair, and, not surprisingly, into the arms of demagogues and charlatans of the radical Christian right who offer a belief in magic, miracles and the fiction of a utopian Christian nation. Unless we rapidly re-enfranchise these dispossessed workers, insert them back into the economy, unless we give them hope, these demagogues will rise up to take power.

The former in the last sentence ain’t gonna happen, is it? Rhetorical. I know the economist Richard Wolff has a great deal to say on the rapid re-enfranchising of dispossessed workers matter.



Wonders never cease. Quality takes time.

At least now that CA SB 43 is being realized, thanks to Governor Jerry Brown signing it into law back on 28 September 2013, some are taking notice an opportunity to explore developing decentralized, utility-scale hybrid renewable energy systems technologies [and not just solar only] on existing electrical distribution networks in the urban/built environment in N. California. And what’s particularly great about this law is, 100 MW of the 600 MW needs to be developed in under-represented, marginalized communities.

The Germans persist in being the vanguards in this arena of distributed generation (DG). Just have a look at the following read:

Integrating Variable Renewables as Germany Expands Its Grid 

SDG&E’s Borrego Springs real-world micro-grid performed well during a severe weather storm that affected 2780 customers power outage due to a severe storm on 6 Sept 2013. I understand this was one of the first times in the USA that a micro-grid in the actual working environment, and not just a model, has been used to power a large portion of a community during an emergency situation.

  • uses new smart grid technology – including local power generation, local energy storage, and automated switching
  • variances to island are in place for emergency scenarios
  • 1060 customers power restored in a few hours
  • All 2780 customers power restored w/in 25 hours

I have some enquiries to SDG&E, and am awaiting feedback on the following–which I will update on this thread, once received:

  • RE systems technologies deployed
  • Performance metrics

A break-off from a group I have been volunteering for, has been brainstorming on how to make this a reality in the SF East Bay Area. For now, our progress can be followed, here.

I have said for many, many years, it just makes sense to generate energy closer to where it will be utilized. And once the IT, smart(er) grid communications protocol ‘glue’ is implemented and tuned, we’ll be off to the races. And this is just one version of the future outlook:


SMART GRID – a real time dynamic network of electrical demand, supply and control (


Community Wind Power in the SF Bay Area?? Ja, it’s needed…

Right-o. Earlier this week, I finished marking up a presentation story on why community wind power is needed in the SF Bay Area. It’s long. 50 pages. Working on the audio to go along with the slides here. Out think the box…


Community Wind Power in the SF Bay Area??

I just discovered, I don’t have any bla bla on this blog about community wind power generation. I’ve emailed volumes on this topic over the past two years. Ja, past time to post up some bla bla here…

I find it troubling community wind projects and discussions don’t seem to make way into the SF Bay Area proper. I mean this is the SF Bay Area, the bastion of being vanguards in furthering a mindful approach to maintaining a high quality of life. Makes me wonder if something I have been missing that is going on in the corridors of government that are hampering these kinds of opportunities. I mean Anheuser-Busch in Fairfield, Solano County has figured out how to make this work in their behalf alongside Foundation Windpower.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

AWEA Community Wind Projects in the USA

Wind energy projects that incorporate local financial participation and control are known as “community wind” projects. Community wind projects encompass a wide range of sizes and project types. Some examples include:

  • 1-kilowatt to 100-kilowatt net-metered home and farm-based systems
  • Mid-size singe-turbine projects at schools and businesses
  • Wind-diesel village power projects
  • Multi-megawatt wind farms owned by co-ops and munis
  • Wind farms comprising tens of megawatts and an independent power producer arrangement

NB: Since 2011, there have only been FOUR community wind projects to come on-line in CA. Whereas there have been sixteen in Iowa, twelve in Massachusetts and ten in Minnesota. The Hull, MA Community Wind Project is the most highly regarded.


What if “Climate Change” is the next “Y2K”? [My Linked:Energy (Energy industry expertise) comment]

What follows below is a comment I offered up on the thread to the Post Subject Title: What if “Climate Change” is the next “Y2K”?

I want to formally call out two concepts I think would better serve this discussion:

Climate Instability — As much as I disagree with the operatives ‘climate change’, I think it would be better served to educate the dummied down masses with the usage of the more accurate operatives, ‘climate instability’, rather than ‘climate change’–for the very reason Larry aptly offered up. I think there is so much distrust by the general public because we scientists/engineers try to find a way to explain challenging concepts without speaking over their heads, and in doing so to make it more palatable, the actuality sometimes gets skewed. The current understanding of the many facets of climate ‘change’ science is pervasive and profound, with many unknowns, and unknown unknowns, that cannot be characterized in terms of a conventional probability distribution. Perhaps if there were not so much ambiguity in the science, ambiguity aversion by the masses could be averted. But alas, most can only handle absolutes, expect science to be exact, and so it goes…

Precautionary Principle – I believe worst-case scenarios should always be considered and planned for. We should NEVER wait until disaster happens to act. In this case, even if climate instability turns out to not be as deleterious as originally thought, the precautions put in place will be to our advantage no matter what the scenario. Is moving towards sustainable energy a bad thing? No. Is changing our consumptive, polluting behavior a bad thing? No.

A tactical suggestion: So I now try break out the precautionary principle, the argument stops and agreement begins.

Say, I think it’s past time to dispense the human hubris that we should expect Mother Nature to acquiesce to our human quality of life expectations to which we have become accustomed, eschew futile dichotomies (economics and environment), and instead focus on implementing measures to PREPARE. RESPOND. ADAPT. For quite a long time now, I have thought we should be instead looking at application of developments in the economic theory of ambiguity to climate instability policy that includes both mitigation policy (the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation policy (coping with the consequences of climate instability).

Ancillary note. During the Y2K ‘unevent’, I was charged with ensuring that the web server farm/systems to which I was entrusted managing, what was at the time the 3rd biggest e-commerce web site in the world,, did not suffer an outage on 01/01/2000. And yes, all the time and effort invested in shoring-up our uninterruptible power requirements infrastructure ended up being most advantageous afterward. This experience also catalyzed my ‘reinvention’ into the renewable energy world.


If it is a matter of the quality of life…

…it remains to be seen when investing in renewable energy technologies will achieve the same ‘sexy’ status and value as say a luxury car, a fur coat, a diamond ring, etc. Surely, since renewable energy resources have a lower overall negative impact on nature and public health systems, many people can benefit from the quality of life these technologies hold so much promise, yes?

Most of the world’s energy resources are from the sun’s rays hitting Earth. Some of that energy has been preserved as fossil energy, some is directly or indirectly usable. e.g. wind, hydro- or wave power. According to Volker Quaschning’s Understanding Renewable Energy Systems: 

Annually,   39 exajoules  (3.9×1024 J) = 1.08×1018 kWh of solar energy reaches the surface of the Earth. This is about ten thousand times more than the annual global primary energy demand and much more than all the available energy reserves on the Earth. In other words, using one-ten-thousandth part of the incoming sunlight would cover the whole energy demand of mankind.

For some perspective on the Earth’s energy resources, one only needs to look at the world energy resources versus consumption. The volume of the cubes represent the amount of available geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar energy in terawatts (TW), although only a small portion is recoverable. The small cube shows the proportional global energy consumption, in a word, thermodynamics. Put another way,  this is equivalent to an annual average power consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1.50×1013 W).


Perhaps if President Obama were to issue an Executive Order, say, to implement a national solar Feed-in Tariff (FIT) policy to require PG&E in California to buy all solar from homeowners & farmers at $0.54 kWh, this would create ~22 million new jobs in one year, creating a HUGE opportunities for improvement in the quality of life for many. In Germany, who has far less sun than the USA, the FIT has contributed making the economy in Germany the strongest in Europe. I defer you to a former post:

VIDEO :: Environment MN & SolarHotDish got game! Putting the Sun to Work for Minnesota


Another Requiem for a Dream :: 2012 Parody of Inaction

Three years ago, I had a requiem for a dream.

This year, I am not sure what there is to be happy about as 2013 commences. Sustained growth is killing our and other species living spaces. The atmosphere is on ‘dope’ and the oceans are acidifying. Inaction is no laughing matter…

Our addiction to fossil fuels is leading to our imprisonment in a world of delusion and reckless desperation that will eventually be overtaken by the reality that is nature. Dystopia in the making? A great deal of citizens around the world are and have already been experiencing ‘undesirables.’ Nothing fictional about it.

We’re on a trajectory to increase the global temperature by 4° C, because it has been reported, coal burning is climbing, not decreasing.  It it as if leaderships’ aims are to ensure dangerous climate change, and this apathy is being supported. Plans to manage carbon emissions have been scraped or delayed. The World Bank even published a report earlier this year, Turn Down the Heat – Why a 4° C Warmer World Must be Avoided.

Even in the USA, most people agree climate change/instability, the melting the Arctic, acidifying the ocean and raising the temperature of the Earth in ways that endanger the prospects of our civilization is real. Yet, most are not prepared to respond, act. Nothing changes unless we change. Inaction will kill all of us. This is a test. I aim to pass.





So many are in denial about climate instability and the effects it is having on our beloved ecosystem. What we humans should be practicing is biomimicry.

What is biomimicry you enquire? Biomimicry studies nature’s best ideas, then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems e.g. studying a leaf to invent a better, more efficient solar cell. Ja, I think the leaves got it right.

I find it a bit ‘amusing’ that (wo)man tries to outsmart Mother Nature. With the increase in climate instability events, perhaps, like lower-order creatures, we should be focusing more on adapting and more appropriate responses, instead of expecting her to acquiesce to our current quality of life needs expectations. I think, surely attempts at predicting and precisely modeling all this uncertainty will likely be increasing, more dynamic and more challenging in the years to come.

I think, investment in and practicing adaptability and response would be a more prudent and proactive approach toward applying resiliency and thermodynamics, er biomimicry. Silly humans. 


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What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

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