Our grid isn’t ready for climate change

February 19, 2021 by  
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Our grid isn’t ready for climate change Sarah Golden Fri, 02/19/2021 – 01:30 Last summer, when 750,000 Californians experienced rolling blackouts as heatwaves overtook the west, some politicians in Texas took the opportunity to blame liberal policies to explain the outages.  California’s politicians did this, not the heat. https://t.co/wft1kFsHfX — Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) September 6, 2020 California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity. Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning! https://t.co/UkKBq9HkoK — Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 19, 2020 This week, as ice storms overtook Texas and plunged more than 4.4 million people into freezing darkness, some Californians on Twitter were gleefully dunking on those same Texas politicians for not keeping electricity flowing during their extreme weather events.  I get it. I understand the tribalism of politics. But at this moment, millions of Americans are freezing without power — with no end in sight. It is horrifying and beyond politics. Energy resilience, like climate change, is not partisan. It will affect every community and statehouse, regardless of who is in charge. The battle is not between liberal and conservative states. It is between those working towards a clean, affordable resilient energy future and the politicians and incumbent energy providers that politicize it.  The grid isn’t ready for climate change While the grid is designed to handle spikes in energy demand, reliability is dependent on the ability for operators to predict future supply and demand conditions.  The week’s cold snap affected both: Texans (with power) were cranking up their thermostats at the same time as gas-fired, coal and nuclear facilities were knocked offline amid the icy conditions.  Making matters worse, the Texas transmission lines weren’t up for the challenge. So, regardless of the energy source, grid disruptions will continue as long as we rely on a grid built for a 20th-century climate. “The situation in Texas could have happened anywhere,” said Mahesh Sudhakaran, chief digital officer for the energy, environment and utilities sector at IBM, in an email. “It exposed the importance of grid resiliency, which is something that impacts us all.” Is renewable energy to blame for the Texas power crisis?

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Our grid isn’t ready for climate change

Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

January 28, 2021 by  
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Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting Heather Clancy Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:30 The events of 2020 thrust the issue of corporate sustainability front and center in many C-suites. With that heightened visibility comes questions about accountability and accounting — specifically carbon accounting. It’s a dilemma decades in the making: How to properly track and declare a company’s carbon dioxide emissions in real time, not just in lag time after an annual data hunt. One year ago, cloud software powerhouse Salesforce began touting its answer with the general availability of the Salesforce Sustainability Cloud, a platform for providing real-time access to ESG data such as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The application was first developed internally for the company’s sustainability team and then spun out into a product meant to help companies collect data for sustainability reporting purposes. This week, Salesforce turned to digital services firm Accenture to accelerate its push to get more companies — especially those already using its Customer 360 platform — to adopt its carbon accounting platform.  Their pitch is that businesses need a digital platform of this nature in order to truly embed ESG metrics and considerations into business decisions. It’s a push to produce “investor-grade” climate data. And, with the leap forward in digitization over the past year, they’re amplifying their push. The announcement also dovetails with a declaration of support this week for “universal” ESG reporting standards advocated by the World Economic Forum. More than 60 big companies have endorsed the framework — including Accenture and Salesforce, but also the likes of KPMG, Deloitte, EY, Dell, Mastercard, IBM and PayPal ( it’s a long list ).  This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. By teaming with Accenture, Salesforce hopes to help companies add industry-specific considerations to their dashboards. What’s more, Accenture and Salesforce intend to work together to expand the platform so it can be used to track other metrics that are front-of-mind for companies, including waste management, water consumption and diversity and inclusion data. “Our research shows that more and more companies realize that a sustainable business strategy means more than just ‘doing good’ — it means ‘doing well by doing good,'” noted IDC senior research analyst Bjoern Stengel in a statement. “This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets.” Salesforce is clearly the biggest cloud software company staking a claim in the emerging carbon accounting software category. While few players are on the field, it’s certainly not the only one positioning to score. I fully expect this year to be abundant with declarations of funding and such by cloud software companies focused on making sustainability reporting more accessible and investor-friendly.  Here are four players I’ll be watching more carefully. (I’ve excluded those linked to energy consulting services or those focused on compliance or managing safety regulations.) Refreshingly, none of them are from Silicon Valley:  Accuvio , an accredited CDP reporting partner, hails from the U.K. and many of its clients are there, including Cobham, West Fraser and Babcock International. ClearTrace (formerly SwychX), which automates carbon emissions and energy data collection for enterprises, investors and real-estate firms, in December raised $4 million. Among early users of its platform are Brookfield Renewables (also an investor) and JPMorgan Chase. Envizi , an Australian firm with customers including Microsoft and Qantas. Its partner list is impressive and includes Accenture, CBRE and Cushman Wakefield.  FigBytes , which last year integrated the reporting metrics from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, cites customers including Akamai and Taylor Farms.  My question from last week’s column bears repeating: When was the last time you spent time with your company’s CIO? If companies with net-zero goals have any hope of making those targets, the metrics need to be part of core business IT systems — and the carbon accounting software for supporting that progression is finally starting to emerge.  Pull Quote This initiative can help customers on this journey by letting them capture relevant ESG data as well as manage and measure performance against their sustainability targets. Topics Finance & Investing Corporate Strategy Reporting Information Technology Decarbonization Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Salesforce, Accenture and a tipping point for carbon accounting

How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

November 12, 2020 by  
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How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries Myisha Majumder Thu, 11/12/2020 – 02:03 World fish consumption has almost doubled between the 1960s and now, and some estimates suggest fish contributes to at least 50 percent of total animal protein intake in developing nations. Despite higher demand for seafood and fish, world reserves have not kept up, and aquaculture is becoming more common as a result. Aquaculture uses techniques of breeding marine species in all types of water environments as a means to supplement seafood demand. The practice comes with many advantages, including reducing the dependence on wild-caught species, but also raises environmental concerns, which some industry experts are trying to address with up-and-coming technologies such as analytics, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Jennifer Kemmerly, vice president of global ocean initiatives at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said a focus on sustainability is necessary in the field, as 3 billion people rely on seafood, and 60 million people rely on the seafood industry for their livelihood. But this demand comes with noticeable problems, Kemmerly observed during a breakout session during VERGE 20 in late October. “There’s a lot of overfishing, or depleted fish stocks on the wild side of capture fisheries. There is illegality and mismanagement traceability back to the source of where the seafood is coming from, even whether it is farmed or wild… There are environmental issues and concerns that need to be dealt with,” she said. Kristina Furnes, global communications manager for Grieg Seafood, an international seafood company in Norway, British Columbia and Shetland specializing in fresh Atlantic salmon, said fish farming is complex. “It actually takes between 2.5 to three years to farm salmon, [which is] quite a long production period compared to, for example, chicken, which maybe takes like one or two months,” she said. Part of this farming process occurs in freshwater facilities on land and the other part occurs at sea. The process becomes even more complex with the introduction of sustainable practices, as fisheries strive to reduce impact on nature and improve fish welfare. “We have to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and we have to find new ways to think more in line with the circular economy,” Furnes said. Data and digital technologies can play a big role in helping out the process, said Furnes and her fellow VERGE 20 panelists. At Grieg Seafood, data analytics are being used to reduce the company’s feed conversion ratio, typically the amount of feed given over the amount of weight gained by the livestock, she said. One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Although technological advances can assist in making fishery practices more sustainable, Furnes emphasized the importance of long histories of fishing communities. She believes that well-established farmers who have “grown up with the ocean” have had the experience-based learning crucial for decision-making. Furnes does not see technology as a way to replace humans in the process, but rather to assist, through the creation of operational centers in the Grieg Seafood infrastructure. “One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. But the idea is that it will help them to make better decisions,” she said. Among the sources of information Grieg uses to inform decisions include sensors and cameras to gather environmental data and monitor equipment on the farms. Another area where data analytics can be used to help fisheries is through early detection of potential damages. Furnes offered the example of harmful algae blooms that can damage the salmon by decreasing levels of oxygen. In Grieg Seafood’s British Columbia center, the company uses machine learning models to predict the probability of algae blooms. If the model warns of such an event, the company puts into place protective barriers through use of upwelling systems, which is simply taking water from further down in the ocean and increasing the overall height. Blockchain also could play a role in supporting the sustainable evolution of aquaculture, said Espen Braathe, head of blockchain transparency efforts in Europe for IBM, who believes IBM’s preexisting blockchain network for the food market in Europe can be implemented in some way. Braathe said data analytics about the condition of fish farms is appealing to consumers as well. “We expect information to be at our fingertips and we expect to have the truth about food… You want to feel good about you know the food that we eat, and we want to make sure it’s healthy right for us as well,” he said. In Braathe’s opinion, consumers are looking for the connection that once ago existed between the consumer and the farmer. It is possible to recreate this relationship through digital connections, he said. Although it is clear that usage of data can benefit the sustainability of fisheries, the industry will need to overcome certain barriers, according to the panelists. “The data is there, it resides in silos, but the quality of the data is not always to the point where you can actually use it [for analytics],” Braathe said. Furnes echoed this statement, and said some sort of streamlining across the industry and within individual companies is necessary to efficiently use the large amounts of data gathered. “There is a need for a standard in the industry on how you actually collect data… Ensuring that you actually have quality data that you are collecting that you can actually use for something and compare is really big,” she said. Adopting such practices hopefully will come with time, as global consumption of seafood likely will continue to rise and have an impact on the surrounding climate and environment. Kemmerly sees great potential in the role of technology in the solutions. “The challenges are not insurmountable. Technology has proven it can play a powerful role in enabling the sustainability and improved management of both fisheries and aquaculture,” she said. Pull Quote One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Topics Oceans & Fisheries VERGE 20 Digitalization Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

March 6, 2019 by  
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Think how much more material would be reused if plastic recycling didn’t entail washing, sorting and individual processing. Now, IBM researchers have developed a new chemical process called VolatileCatalyst that eliminates these steps. VolCat recycling grinds up plastics, adds a chemical catalyst and cooks them at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. The chemicals eat through polymer strands, producing a fine white powder ready to be made into new containers. By heating PET with ethylene glycol and the catalyst, lab workers depolymerize plastic . After distillation, filtration, purification and cooling, scientists eventually recover usable matter called a monomer—in this case the white powder. This process digests and cleans the ground plastic, separating contaminants like dyes, glue and food residue. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials PET is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester. This type of plastic is used to manufacture containers for two-liter bottles of soft drinks, water bottles, salad dressings, cooking oil, shampoo, liquid hand soap and carry-out food containers. It’s even found in carpet, clothing and tennis balls. DuPont chemists first synthesized PET in the 1940s, probably never guessing that 70 years later between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic would wind up in the ocean each year. Humans have produced more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since its invention. About half of new plastic becomes trash each year. By 2050, some scientists project there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean . VolCat developers hope to reverse this destructive trend. According to the researchers’ statement, “In the next five years, plastic recycling advancements like VolCat could be adopted around the globe to combat global plastic waste . People at the grocery store buying a bottle of soda or container of strawberries will know that the plastic they’ve purchased won’t end up in the ocean, but instead will be repurposed and put back on the shelf.” + IBM Images via Shutterstock

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New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

4 rules for effective corporate governance

October 21, 2017 by  
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Although there’s no cookie-cutter approach for everyone, companies such as Shell and IBM have used these guidelines to establish structure and direction.

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4 rules for effective corporate governance

Tim O’Reilly on the WTF economy – What’s the future?

September 30, 2016 by  
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What’s the future of work? While engaging some of the world’s smartest people in fields as diverse as robotics, AI, the on-demand economy, and the economics of labor, Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual describes the key drivers of some of today’s most successful startups and about what technology like driverless cars, Siri, Google Now, Microsoft Cortana, and IBM Watson teach us about the future; specifically, how he’s starting to see their connections and how this will catalyze positive action across all industries.

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Tim O’Reilly on the WTF economy – What’s the future?

Beyond panels and turbines

September 30, 2016 by  
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Increasingly, renewable energy technologies are moving from standalone solutions to integrated systems that align companies energy, finance, operation and resilience objectives. As the number of clean-energy solutions grows, so do the opportunities to create a portfolio of approaches — including both onsite and offsite wind and solar systems. In this conversation, a leading independent power producer and one of its largest customers discuss the secrets of their success.

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Beyond panels and turbines

Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we connect and interact with the world, from wellness and health monitoring to smart utility meters, integrated logistics, and self-driving cars. What is the potential impact beyond “things” — on our workforce, our communities and the way in which we work? Hewlett Packard Labs has been asking these questions. Learn how they are harnessing IoT innovations to drive solutions that work for both people and the planet. 

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Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

August 4, 2016 by  
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IBM researchers in Switzerland have created an artificial neuron that behaves just like the real thing . For the first time in history, artificial phase-change neurons have been grouped together (in a population of 500 synthesized in a lab) to process a neurological signal in more or less the same way that biological neurons transmit messages. They can be made exceptionally small and are similar in power and energy usage to biological neurons, and can even produce results with random variations, also just like biological neurons. For non-scientists, the importance of this discovery may not be immediately apparent. IBM ’s artificial neuron , developed by a research team in Zurich, is quite literally the next best thing to a naturally created biological neuron. The lab-created version has all the same components of a biological neuron, including inputs (dendrites), a neuronal membrane (lipid bilayer) around the spike generator (soma, nucleus), and an output (axon). Likewise, its functions mimic those of its biological counterpart. Related: Scientists create the world’s first enzymes using synthetic biology In addition to all that, the artificial neurons are durable, made from well-known materials that can withstand trillions of switching cycles. They are tiny (around 90 nanometers) and researchers believe they can make them even smaller, possibly as minuscule as 14nm. The researchers started by creating 500 artificial neurons together in a chain capable of sending signals, which means the IBM team has created the closest artificial version of a biological neuron. In the next phase of research, the team will create a much larger population of artificial neurons, with thousands of individual units, and write software to push their capabilities to the limit. The study results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via Ars Technica Images via IBM

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IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

Let your product do the talking: the rise of smart labels

July 29, 2016 by  
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Technologies from Avery Dennison, IBM and a Kodak-backed startup could usher in a new era of supply-chain transparency.

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Let your product do the talking: the rise of smart labels

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