Wind, the new IT Girl?

Of late, Wind has become the darling renewable energy source especially since T. Boone threw down his gauntlet to the american public vowing to do his bit to free us from our dependence on american oil.  Today’s New York Times Week in Review section (see link) concurred that it was likely due to the visual appeal of the actual turbine’s design, rather than a significant contribution to the electricity grid or more critically its ability to deliver a substantive power offset to reduce our current level of dependency on fossil fuels.

Anyone who has ever felt the wind across their cheek, or stood in the line of a strong wind, can readily understand how this force, once harnessed or redirected with a turbine, can be used to generate power. Solar, thermal or nanotechnology offers no such obvious, clear a transformative image or understanding.

Statistics published by the Department of Energy tracks another category of power generated that is even more visually arresting an image, that of falling water.  Living in the midwest it is easy to forget the earlier public fascination with water and dams that literally jump started the delivery of cheap electricity to rural locations as well as delivered projects requiring lots of labor and helped put americans back on their feet in the 30s.  

 Hydro or water power is the original cheap and clean power.  Only biomass/biofuels generate more electric power than hydro, accounting for 36% of all renewable generated power.  Wind, increasing slowly, accounts for only 5%.  Today’s caveat against increasing production and damming more rivers.  Ironically, the environmental impacts to the habitat of local plant, fish and animals from damming rivers and streams have impeded future development.   Whose to say that this won’t be the fate of wind too?  []

Old and New in Altamont Pass, California

Old and New in Altamont Pass, California

Do you want Energy policy or action?

There’s nothing like plunging in to learn something new. In my case, I was trying to guage the reality behind tracking carbon footprints. I found myself suddenly subscribed to a series of engineering type trade publications and blogs. Any learning of basic mechanics that I gleaned in my Highschool physics course has been so deeply buried I sought out the more simpler of publications. Thus the web became the perfect venue for my initial research.

Now my inbox receives the digest entitled CR4, the Engineers Place for News and Discussion. As a near policy wonk, I ‘m always drawn to discussions that allude to or directly reference government policy. I came across the following thread entitled
Ten years to renewables totality

Several things struck me in this conversation.

1. I am not often in the company of engineers and so there views or at the least those who chose to post are not very favorable to Al Gore.

2. Where are the politicians or thier legislative assistants? How representative are the views expressed with those that have made it to their attention?

3. Where is the authentic voice from the campaigns? more pointedly, why isn’t there a candidate representative chiming in or adding their three cents on the policy debates? or the political barbs being exchanged?

Finally, I’d like to believe that there are some serious industry heavyweights chiming in on this thread and perhaps that’s sufficient. In a free market system, the active decision NOT to have much of a policy is defacto a policy.

If industry alone were to rise to Al Gore’s challenge, and there appears much evidence that the dominating energy companies need to figure out how to continue to reap their large profits, maybe pushing hard into innovating alternatives is what will save them. AT least that’s another argument I saw on another blog today. Check out this video and tell me if you agree?
Cleantech’s dirty little truth

intel risks and benefits

Yesterday I was doing some online research to find some prospective speakers for a short leadership development series I’m organizing.  Since I had a name I wanted to do a little background check and went to linked IN.

When I logged in, the system not only encouraged me to build my network with suggestions of folks I might know, but there were messages in my inbox and a series of “network updates.”  The surprise was that one of my dearest and oldest friends,  who has built a very successful career as a coporate lawyer was listed as a network update.  Linked in was informing me she had signed up.  I was surprised that she was listed here as a network update, after all she wasn’t part of my linked in network. Rather than go to look at her profile…after all over 30 years, I think I know the profile pretty well, so I merely sent  an invite to connect.

I received a flabbergasted response.  How did I know she had signed up on linked in?  I explained that the social media sites all had intel that recognized and was making connections between folks I emailed or had in my email address books and those registering on their site.

I can see why lawyers and corporate attorneys might find this boundary crossing a little dangerous.  Linked in has recently upgraded various features, but this behind the scenes connection look up is a great convenience.  Certainly there are folks who find me on Facebook or on Linked In but I always reserve the right to decline their offer to connect or link or befriend.  The serendipity of finding a former friend, colleague or even long lost family member is a great benefit.  Prior to web 2.0, my ability to “find” someone with whom I had lost touch due to moves etc was like finding a needle in a haystack on matter how distinctive their name.

For business, I find the tools to be a great bonus for being able to learn who is the proper connection in an organization.  Very few companies publish their corporate directory, or evenwhen they do the title may not be descriptive enough to discern their role.  Linked in allows people to voluntarily tell me what they do and how to find them.  Perhaps my friend in signing up didn’t know that Linked in would find her for me…but I would be surprised if I was the only one who had sent her a request to link.  In other words her very experience is now changing…what had been her perogative to share..her email or other basic information…is now being made available to others in a much broader ripple of dissemination.

Web 2.0 has changed the world of pushing information to one of pull.  I don’t have to search for things or people that I’ve already acknowledged through various web2.0 tools are of interest.  These intelligent spiders, as I assume the basic underlying technology or matching algorithm is that, pull out of the wide area net items of interest including connections to individuals I regularly correspond.  The rules of the game have changed and I’m happy with my new virtual colleagues at CSRA  to help you reap the benefits.