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Power Grid of India
12 сентября 2013, 15:59

OMC Power & M-KOPA - Off Grid Energy Providers

Another model for Africa? Firstly a NYTimes profile of off-grid energy solutions company OMC power:  OMC Power has 11 micropower plants using sun, wind and biogas in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and is growing so fast it expects to have 100 plants by April, 2014. (That scale, he said, will allow OMC to deliver power next year at the same cost as the grid — and OMC’s cost, Raj predicts, will continue to drop.) OMC’s plants charge lanterns and power boxes (these can run a few lights and appliances) that are delivered to customers’ homes twice a day. But what sets OMC apart is that each of its plants also has an anchor client — a mobile phone network tower, connected by cable to the micropower plant. These towers would otherwise run on diesel, expensively — fuel and power eat up 40 percent of a mobile network operator’s cost. But OMC has signed 10-year contracts with mobile tower companies — including the giant Bharti Infratel — to supply them with power. Raj said that OMC expects to earn more from its consumer products than its tower contracts. “But they give stability and confidence to investors,” he said. These anchor clients have allowed OMC to grow with loans from Indian commercial banks. “There are going to be a thousand OMC-like companies in the next two years,” Raj said. Furthermore, a look at M-KOPA a Kenyan enterprise:  M-KOPA in Kenya uses a similar system — with the twist that it takes advantage of Kenya’s hugely popular mobile banking system, M-PESA. Former M-PESA executives founded M-KOPA, which markets a $200 system made by d.light that provides three bright lights and phone charging, and sells it in stores all over Kenya. Buyers put down an initial deposit and then pay 40 shillings (45 cents) for each day’s light via M-PESA. (They would be paying 50 shillings a day for kerosene.) When they have completed payments, usually within a year, they own the system. M-KOPA has so far sold 25,000 units — 5,000 in the last month. More here

08 марта 2013, 01:52

X PRIZE Foundation: Forget The Sequester: Entrepreneurs Are Saving The Future

By Vivek WadhwaVice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University. Imagine a world with unlimited food, water, and energy--in which we prevent disease rather than cure it and in which our lifespans increase along with our wisdom and knowledge.  This is what entrepreneurs are making possible. They are leveraging rapidly advancing technologies in a wide range of fields to do what only governments and big labs could do before: solve humanity's grand challenges. They are creating technologies that will allow us to go from battling over scarce resources to debating how we share and distribute the bounty that we create. In his New York Times bestseller, Abundance, XPrize and Singularity University founder Peter Diamandis tells the story of how aluminum went from a rare metal to something we wrap our food in.  When the king of Siam hosted Napoleon III in the 1840s, writes Diamandis, the people working for Napoleon were served with silver utensils; those working for the king received gold; the king himself got aluminum--the rarest metal at the time. Aluminum was so valuable because it was extremely difficult to extract from bauxite--though it is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. And then electrolysis technology was invented--which used electricity to liberate aluminum from bauxite. It made aluminum inexpensive.  It isn't just aluminum that has become abundant.  So have electrical power, refrigeration, television, telephones, cars, and air conditioning.  Two hundred years ago, kings and queens didn't have these luxuries; today, even many people who are classified as poor in the U.S. do.  This prosperity has not reached most of the developing world--yet. But the proliferation of mobile phones shows what is possible.  Within 10 years, their numbers have gone from zero to nearly 1 billion in both India and China.  Even the poorest villagers own them.  Mobile phones changed the lives of millions of families who were cut off from each when they went to cities to work and they transformed society. We are also making headway in solving the global water crisis.  Waterborne viruses are responsible for the majority of disease in the developing world.  There are predictions that countries such as India, China, and parts of the Middle East will run out of water and that wars will break out over supplies.  This seems paradoxical: 71% of the earth's surface is water, and sanitizing and converting seawater is as simple as boiling it and condensing the vapor.  The problem is the cost of energy--it is prohibitively expensive to do this in quantity. Two exciting solutions to the water problem are already working and ready to scale. The first is a product by Dean Kamen called Slingshot.  Kamen is the inventor of the Segway personal transporter, an insulin pump, and many other breakthroughs.  Slingshot is a vapor-compression water-purification machine that can produce about 30 liters of 100% pure distilled water per hour using the same power as a hair dryer consumes.  It can transform dirty water from any source: rivers, oceans, and even raw sewage.  Slingshot has been under development for more than a decade and was recently tested by Coca-Cola in five towns in Ghana for six months.  The devices worked flawlessly. Kamen told me that he expects that Slingshot will cost less than $2000 when mass produced and will not require any maintenance or servicing for seven years.  One device will produce enough clean water to support a village of 300 people.  Coca Cola plans to test it in dozens of locations this year and will expects to roll it out on a larger scale next year. I hope that other organizations will also license the technology from Kamen and alleviate worldwide disease and suffering. Another amazing product, by Alfredo Zolezzi of Chile Advanced Innovation Center, is a Plasma Water Sanitation System that can sanitize 35 liters of water in five minutes at a cost per liter of less than 1/8 of a (U.S.) cent. This works by injecting water into a reaction chamber, where it achieves plasma state through a high-intensity electrical field. The microbiological content of the water is eliminated by electroporation, oxidation, ionization, UV and IR radiation and shockwaves. This technology won't remove impurities like salt, arsenic, and heavy metals from water, but will kill bacteria. The system has been in operation for more than two years in a slum in Santiago, Chile.  The inhabitants told me that not one person had gotten sick since they started using it--in stark contrast to how it used to be. Zolezzi's device has been successfully tested by various labs in Chile and is being tested in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to determine its conformance to EPA guidelines. Zolezzi expects that mass-produced units which cost $500 will be able to sanitize up to 2500 liters per day, and smaller units, which cost $200 will be able to process 1000 liters or more. He says he is in discussions with several large corporations for the mass production and distribution of the technology pending the NSF validation. Every month, we read about advancements in energy technologies.  Despite all the negative press about solar, the price of solar panels (per watt) was 97.2 percent lower in 2012 than in 1975--and the downward trend is continuing.  At these rates, within a decade, solar energy will cost much less than what we pay to our utility companies--which produce electricity from fossil fuels.  Solar will achieve what is called "grid parity" in Europe and other parts of the world even sooner than in the U.S. Last month, the most exciting news was from UCLA, where a small team of researchers developed a micro-scale graphene-based supercapacitor that can charge and discharge a hundred to a thousand times faster than current batteries.  This could make it possible to fully charge your laptop in seconds and your electric car in a couple of minutes. When we have unlimited clean water and unlimited renewable energy, we can produce unlimited amounts of food.  Singapore is already growing food in vertical farms. A Silicon Valley company called Hampton Creek Foods is producing an egg substitute made from plants. Another startup, Modern Meadow, is using tissue-engineering technique to produce in-vitro leather and meat--without requiring the raising, slaughtering, and transporting animals.   With methods such as these, we will need less--not more--land to feed the world's population. Discovery, application, and invention are also occurring in medicine, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, and many other fields that will change our lives and transform entire industries.  I have described some of these in this TedX talk and in these articles. So while Washington DC fights its mindless battles over taxes and budgets, entrepreneurs are busy solving problems. They don't care about sequesters and fiscal cliffs, they just want government to remove barriers such as immigration that prevent them from developing their technologies, and to leave them alone. Visit X PRIZE at xprize.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and get our Newsletter to stay informed. This material published courtesy of Singularity University.

22 февраля 2013, 03:21

Will Americans Soon Not Be Able To Buy, Sell Or Get A Job Without A Global ID Card?

Michael SnyderActivist Post A plan being pushed in Congress right now by senators from both major political parties would force all Americans to get a biometric national ID card. It is being promoted as a key "immigration reform" measure, but the truth is that a national ID card is much more about the government's endless appetite for more control over the American people. If this national ID card plan is passed by Congress, you will not be able to get a job without one. So how are you going to survive if you can't work? In addition, this national ID card would undoubtedly soon be used to identify us for all sorts of other purposes. For example, have you tried to open up a bank account lately? They make you jump through all sorts of hoops to prove that you are who you say you are. So what would happen if the government decided to require you to show your national ID card before opening up a bank account? If you refused to get a card, how would you be able to function in society without a bank account? Would you try to conduct all of your transactions in cash only? That might work for a while. And of course you would not be able to drive or get on a plane without your national ID card. So forget about going anywhere. Are you starting to get the picture? Unfortunately, the push for a national ID card in the United States is only a small part of the overall push toward a "global ID card" that is happening all over the planet. The eventual goal is to have a "universal ID" that every man, woman and child on the planet will be forced to take.That is why it is so important for the American people to speak up about this. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Right now, all of the big mainstream media outlets are lining up on the side of a national ID card. For instance, just check out this short excerpt from a recent Washington Post article entitled "The case for a national ID card"...An effective solution would be to issue tamper-proof, biometric ID cards — using fingerprints or a comparably unique identifier — to all citizens and legal residents. Last week, both President Obama and a bipartisan group of eight senators seeking immigration reform urged something along those lines, without calling it a universal national identity card. That’s a major step forward.And of course the Wall Street Journal is reporting on this too...Key senators are exploring an immigration bill that would force every U.S. worker—citizen or not—to carry a high-tech identity card that could use fingerprints or other personal markers to prove a person's legal eligibility to work.The idea, signaled only in vaguely worded language from senators crafting a bipartisan immigration bill, has privacy advocates and others concerned that the law would create a national identity card that, in time, could track Americans at airports, hospitals and through other facets of their lives.According to investigative reporter James Tucker, there are those in the Obama administration that are optimistic that they will be able to get a national ID card through Congress now that Ron Paul has left the House of Representatives...At a recent reception in Washington, D.C., an AMERICAN FREE PRESS source overheard Thomas E. Donilon, a White House national security advisor and past Bilderberg member, speaking of Paul’s retirement and the good chance that the global card could now be shepherded through Congress. Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would not object to the plan, added the individual with whom Donilon was talking. He was referring to the fact that Senator Paul has backed off from the strong pro-nationalist positions of his father because he is fantasizing about being elected president in 2016.So will anyone in Congress step up and fight this on behalf of the American people? Let's hope so. But of course there are many other large nations that are actually far ahead of the United States when it comes to implementing this global ID card scheme. Just check out what is going on in Indonesia...Since the start of the government of Indonesia’s multi-modal biometrics-based National Electronic ID Card (e-KTP) program in August 2011, record enrollments are being achieved across the country’s population of 172 million ID-eligible residents. More than 103 million people have been enrolled and de-duplicated in one year with 80% or 140 million residents of the eligible population already enrolled and 85% already processed. Statistics show that over 1 million de-duplication transactions are being achieved in a single day in the data center and 600,000 enrollments being achieved in a single day in the field. In addition 60 million ID cards have been printed.And India is currently collecting biometric information on more than a billion people...In India, a massive effort is underway to collect biometric identity information for each of the country’s 1.2 billion people. The incredible plan, dubbed the “mother of all e-governance projects” by the Economic Times, has stirred controversy in India and beyond, raising serious concerns about the privacy and security of individuals’ personal data. The plan is moving ahead at a clip under the auspices of the National Population Register (NPR) and the Unique ID (UID) programs, separately governed initiatives that have an agreement to integrate the data they collect to build the world’s largest biometric database. Upon enrollment, individuals are issued 12-digit unique ID numbers on chip-based identity cards. For residents who lack the necessary paperwork to obtain certain kinds of employment or government services, there’s strong incentive to get a unique ID. While the UID program is voluntary, enrollment in the NPR program is mandatory for all citizens.Are you starting to understand what is happening? This is a global effort. At this point, there are approximately 100 countries that now issue mandatory ID cards, and undoubtedly this campaign to gather the biometric information of every person on Earth will continue to spread. In fact, soon you may not even be able to log in to your favorite Internet sites without a fingerprint or an iris scan. Does that sound crazy to you? It doesn't sound crazy to the major technology firms that are a part of the Fast Identity Online Alliance...Imagine logging on to your eBay account with your fingerprint. Or perhaps accessing your Facebook account via an iris scan. It might seem a bit much for the average computer user, but it may not be that far off if an initiative is successful. The use of biometric data as an added security measure is just one of the solutions being proposed by a consortium of firms who have come together to form the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance.We live in a world that has become obsessed with information and obsessed with security. At first, we may all just be forced to carry around ID cards, but eventually cards will not be considered to be good enough. Cards are easily lost, they can be stolen, and they can be forged. But what about an electronic tattoo? Wouldn't that be much more secure? That is the argument that will be made. And the advancements that have been made in the field of electronic tattoos lately have got a lot of scientists very excited...Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say.Does that sound "cool" to you? That is how these changes will be marketed to the public. They will be sold as the "hip" and "cool" things to do. But the truth is that these electronic tattoos are incredibly dangerous. They can receive electrical signals from your brain, and they can also send electrical signals to your brain...The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others. The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.This is very frightening stuff.But most people just do whatever the "authorities" tell them to do without thinking about it. So will you take a national ID card if Congress requires you to? Will you take an electronic tattoo on your hand or your forehead someday if the authorities require it for "security" reasons? The control freaks that run things just love to find new ways to watch us, track us and control us. For example, just check out what is going on in New York City. The following is from a recent article in the Telegraph...Created by Microsoft and the New York Police Department, the Domain Awareness System, known as "the dashboard," is state-of-the-art crime fighting technology. "The dashboard," instantaneously mines data from the NYPD's vast collection of arrest records, emergency 911 calls, more than 3,000 security cameras, license plate readers and portable radiation detectors and aggregates it into a user-friendly, readable form in the control room. Eventually, that data will be able to be seen in real time by officers on laptops in their squad cars and on mobile devices as they walk their beat.Could you imagine how much more intrusive such a system would be if "national ID cards" were constantly feeding information about all of us into their computers? But the "authorities" insist that all of this "security" is making life so much "better" and "safer" for all of us. Well, what about for 3-year-old Lucy Schulte? She is a sweet little disabled girl in a wheelchair that has Spina bifida. Recently she was getting ready to get on a plane to go to Disney World, but TSA workers decided that she was a potential terrorist and so they manhandled her and confiscated her stuffed toy. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 7/28/12 */ google_ad_slot = "9833874419"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; You can see very disturbing video of this incident below... Is this really want we want America to become? For much more on how America is being transformed into a Big Brother police state, please see the following article: "29 Signs That The Elite Are Transforming Society Into A Total Domination Control Grid". So what do you think about all of this? Do you believe that a global ID card is a good idea or a bad idea? Would you take a national ID card if Congress made it mandatory? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below...This article first appeared here at The Truth.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.Enter Your Email To Receive Our Daily Newsletter Close var fnames = new Array();var ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = 'margin: 1em 0 0 0; padding: 1em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; background: FFEEEE none repeat scroll 0% 0%; font- weight: bold; float: left; z-index: 1; width: 80%; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz- initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial; color: FF0000;'; } var mce_jQuery = jQuery.noConflict(); mce_jQuery(document).ready( function($) { var options = { errorClass: 'mce_inline_error', errorElement: 'div', errorStyle: err_style, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} }; var mce_validator = mce_jQuery("#mc-embedded-subscribe-form").validate(options); options = { url: 'http://activistpost.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe/post-json? u=3ac8bebe085f73ea3503bbda3&id=b0c7fb76bd&c=?', type: 'GET', dataType: 'json', contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", beforeSubmit: function(){ mce_jQuery('#mce_tmp_error_msg').remove(); mce_jQuery('.datefield','#mc_embed_signup').each( function(){ var txt = 'filled'; var fields = new Array(); var i = 0; mce_jQuery(':text', this).each( function(){ fields[i] = this; i++; }); mce_jQuery(':hidden', this).each( function(){ if ( fields[0].value=='MM' && fields[1].value=='DD' && fields[2].value=='YYYY' ){ this.value = ''; } else if ( fields[0].value=='' && fields [1].value=='' && fields[2].value=='' ){ this.value = ''; } else { this.value = fields[0].value+'/'+fields[1].value+'/'+fields[2].value; } }); }); return mce_validator.form(); }, success: mce_success_cb }; mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').ajaxForm(options); }); function mce_success_cb(resp){ mce_jQuery('#mce-success-response').hide(); mce_jQuery('#mce-error-response').hide(); if (resp.result=="success"){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(resp.msg); mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').each(function(){ this.reset(); }); } else { var index = -1; var msg; try { var parts = resp.msg.split(' - ',2); if (parts[1]==undefined){ msg = resp.msg; } else { i = parseInt(parts[0]); if (i.toString() == parts[0]){ index = parts[0]; msg = parts[1]; } else { index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } } } catch(e){ index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } try{ if (index== -1){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } else { err_id = 'mce_tmp_error_msg'; html = ' '+msg+''; var input_id = '#mc_embed_signup'; var f = mce_jQuery(input_id); if (ftypes[index]=='address'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-addr1'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else if (ftypes[index]=='date'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-month'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else { input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]; f = mce_jQuery().parent(input_id).get(0); } if (f){ mce_jQuery(f).append(html); mce_jQuery(input_id).focus(); } else { mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } catch(e){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } BE THE CHANGE! 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13 февраля 2013, 20:28

The Real Reason the Economy Is Broken (and Will Stay That Way)

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity, We are far enough and deep enough into the most heroic monetary and fiscal efforts ever undertaken to finally ask, why aren't these measures working? Or at least we should be.  Oddly, many in DC, on Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve continue to steadfastly refuse to include anything in their approaches and frameworks other than "more of the same." So we are treated to an endless parade of news items that seek to convince us that a bottom is in and that we've 'turned the corner' – often on the flimsy basis that in the past things have always gotten better by now. The framework we operate from around here is simply encapsulated in the observation that there has never been global economic recovery with oil prices above $100 over barrel.  That is shorthand for the idea that oil is the primary lubricant of economic growth and that it is not just the amount of oil one has to burn but also the quality, or net energy, of the oil that matters.  If we want to understand why all of the tried-and-true monetary and fiscal efforts have failed, we have to appreciate the headwinds that are offered by both a condition of too-much-debt and expensive energy.  Neither alone can account for the economic malaise that stalks the world. Getting a Little for a Lot Trillions have been printed and injected into the world's economies, and yet things seem to be barely limping along, requiring constant attention and interventions from both fiscal and monetary authorities.  The broadest measure of money in the U.S. is Money of Zero Maturity, or MZM.  Note that it has increased by an astonishing 44% since the start of the crisis: We could similarly look at the Federal Reserve balance sheet, or excess reserves, or a dozen other indicators that all say the same thing: The money supply has been expanded enormously. And what do we have to show for it? Not much. Since 2005 real – that is, inflation-adjusted – GDP has only expanded by 0.9% on an annualized basis.  On a nominal basis (not inflation-adjusted), the number is only 2.9%, far below the 5%-6% required to sustain a banking system dependent on exponential growth in that range. In a very nice piece of work entitled Our Investment Sinkhole Problem, Gail Tverberg put up this handy and extremely important chart: Oil and GDP are highly correlated and always have been.  The general observation is that growth in GDP is usually higher than growth in oil consumption - as growth in oil consumption powers economic growth.  Without growth in oil consumption, GDP growth doesn't advance. Back in 2009, in a piece entitled Oil - The Coming Supply Crunch (Part I), I calculated that every 1% increase in global GDP was associated with a 0.25% increase in oil consumption – in other words, a roughly 4:1 ratio. Since 2007, something quite remarkable has happened in the world of oil, and that has been a decline in the consumption of oil in the U.S. and Europe -- with China and India pretty much making up the difference for everything that the West didn't consume. That, plus a dramatic increase in the price of oil were the only ways to balance out the fact that since 2005 oil production has been essentially dead flat: If the view that oil consumption and economic growth are linked is correct, then we might easily imagine that simply making money cheaper and more widely available would do little to boost the real economy. Sure all that funny money will boost asset prices, but in this story, the tail does not and cannot wag the dog.  Stock prices may rise, but unemployment will not budge.  Bonds will become more expensive, but GDP will stall. Hollowed Out Now the Fed is finally showing signs of saying hey, what gives? as its policies do little to improve the things it publicly admits to wanting to improve. In this recent speech by Janet Yellen, Vice Chair of the Fed, you can see her nibbling all around the edges of the mystery: In the three years after the Great Recession ended, growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) averaged only 2.2 percent per year. In the same span of time following the previous 10 U.S. recessions, real GDP grew, on average, more than twice as fast--at a 4.6 percent annual rate.  So, why has the economy's recovery from the Great Recession been so weak?   (...)   [T]he unprecedented level and persistence of long-term unemployment in this recovery have prompted some to ask whether a significant share of unemployment since the recession is due to structural problems in labor markets and not simply a cyclical shortfall in aggregate demand. This question is important for anyone committed to the goal of maximum employment, because it implicitly asks whether the best we can hope for, even in a healthy economy, is an unemployment rate significantly higher than what has been achieved in the past.   For the Federal Reserve, the answer to this question has important implications for monetary policy. If the current, elevated rate of unemployment is largely cyclical, then the straightforward solution is to take action to raise aggregate demand. If unemployment is instead substantially structural, some worry that attempts to raise aggregate demand will have little effect on unemployment and serve only to stoke inflation. (Source) As I said, the Fed is nibbling, but it is not yet even close to the center of the conundrum.  Yes, there are structural issues at play, but they have as much to do with expensive oil as they do with any great shifts in labor market trends.  The main part to consider here is contained in the last two bolded parts in the above quote.  If the Fed is just chucking more and more money into an economy that has fundamentally shifted into a lower gear, then all they are doing is laying the tinder for future inflation. Given the amounts involved, the potential for a very punishing period of inflation is quite high, for reasons often discussed here, such as in the recent article QE For Dummies. Economic Sinkholes This leads us back to Gail Tverberg's piece on economic sinkholes.  Her main point in that piece was that in times past, higher investment led to higher output.  That is, spending led to economic growth, especially investment spending. Carefully buried within higher oil prices are higher prices for every single economic activity that uses them.  Along with diminishing ore yields come incrementally higher costs to simply, extract, and refine those ores, let alone fashion them into something useful. Gail writes: All types of mineral extraction, but particularly oil, eventually reach the situation where it takes an increasing amount of investment (money, energy products, and often water) to extract a given amount of resource. This situation arises because companies extract the cheapest to extract resources first, and move on to the more expensive to extract resources later.   As consumers, we recognize the situation through rising commodity prices. There is generally a real issue behind the rising prices -- not enough resource available in readily accessible locations -- so we need to dig deeper, or apply more “high tech” solutions. These high tech solutions indirectly require more investment and more energy, as well.   While we don’t stop to think about what is happening, the reality is that increasingly less oil (or other product such as natural gas, coal, gold, or copper) is being produced, for the same investment dollar. As long as the price of the product keeps rising sufficiently to cover the higher cost of extraction, the investor is happy, even if the cost of the resource is becoming unbearably high for consumers. (Source) The summary here is that it takes more and more to achieve less and less.  The old form of economic growth is no longer with us, but the Fed still doesn't get it.  It still has its eyes firmly trained on economic indicators and equations, having not yet raised its gaze into the real world where limits are being reached. As Gail nicely encapsulates, many of those limits are carefully hidden from view as a slightly but steadily reducing net energy for oil seeps into every nook and cranny of our complex economy. The sinkholes that we are facing now are extraordinary.  Some of them are quite literal, and numerous, as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is demonstrating: Bottom Falls Out of Debt-Ridden City Jan 31, 2013 HARRISBURG, Pa.—With midnight approaching on New Year's Eve, Sherri Lewis and her two children knelt to pray for a better year ahead.   A few minutes later, she heard a rumbling that sounded like fireworks. The ground outside her apartment had opened up, revealing a municipal disaster that shows how far this city's finances have sunk.   A sinkhole, measuring about 50 feet long and eight feet deep, had swallowed Ms. Lewis's street, damaging water and gas pipes and forcing more than a dozen residents to evacuate one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. "I thought the world was ending,'' says Ms. Lewis, 42 years old.   Harrisburg officials have identified at least 40 other sinkholes around the 50,000-person city. The combination of particularly sandy soil and leaky pipes under Harrisburg's streets make it susceptible to sinkholes, city officials say. But Harrisburg has a bigger problem: The Pennsylvania capital can't afford to replace many of the aging pipes, some of which date back to the 19th century. The metaphor perfectly offered by Harrisburg is that once you run out economy, your current infrastructure alone may be well beyond your means to maintain. The embodied energy in just our existing property, plant, and equipment is enormous.  Nearly every high-tech dream – of a kinder, gentler future where 9 billion people somehow enjoy higher average standards of living than the current 7 billion – requires an extraordinary investment of energy. Left out of this dream is a crisp articulation of exactly where that energy will come from and when we will begin to transition to prioritizing its use towards building and maintaining all of that new infrastructure.  It's not enough to merely buy electric cars, should they ever be manufactured in sufficient quantities, because we also need new grid components, electrical storage, generation, and a thousand other components to pull it off. I note that with every passing year, more and more internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are manufactured and sold, not fewer and fewer.  The past 7 years has seen the number of new ICE vehicles sold grow at a compounded rate of 3.7% per annum, and at that rate, 2013 should see more than 80,000,000 sold.  That's up from just over 50,000,000 only ten years ago. Every one of those represents the investment of energy and capital that will consume our remaining oil at the expense of anything else we might choose to do with that oil, such as maintain our current infrastructure as we build out the next one. Conclusion As we dump more and more money into the economy, hoping with all our collective might that it will once again sputter back to life and lift all fortunes and boats, too few are asking what happens if it does not. If there are other factors at work here besides a simple case of too much debt, then the Fed is not only barking up the wrong tree, but is unaware that a very dangerous animal with a bad attitude is resting up there. These are truly extraordinary times.  I am in awe of the number of otherwise professional investors who believe that the Fed has things safely in hand.  The amount of market insanity and complete disconnect from reality has me thankful that I already lived through a similar time and can keep things in perspective now. That time was 2005 to 2007, when I was trading quite actively and thought the world had gone mad.  Nothing made sense, because I was trying make sense of things that could not be made sense of.   In times of extraordinarily abundant liquidity and loose monetary policies, all that has to be understood is that financial assets tend to run up in price during such moments. The fact that this all ended quite badly then does little to make me think this time is going to end any better.  Thin-air money, attempting to print one's way to prosperity, and spending more than you have are proven losers in the history books. Yet here we are, doubling down – we're all in and I guess there's no turning back now.  The Fed is going to keep with the program until forced to change by circumstances. As I see it, the economy is broken and it will stay that way.  Our only hope for an alternative would be to immediately cut our losses in those enterprises that do not make sense in a world of increasingly expensive liquid fuels, and invest heavily in those things that will help us transition to a future without fossil fuels. I am quite aware that many decades’ worth of fossil fuels remain, but equally aware that all energy transitions require four to six decades under ideal conditions where one is transitioning to a higher quality fuel source and capital is expanding.  And under less-than-ideal conditions, where we are transitioning to a lower density energy source (as all alternative energy sources are) and capital is shrinking?  There we might imagine it could take longer than usual; a 100-year transition period is not out of the question. In the meantime, the best I can tell you is that the markets are reflecting liquidity, not reality, and that until and unless the world suddenly starts to produce a lot more crude oil and the U.S. and Europe increase their consumption of it, I will remain quite skeptical of all pronouncements of recovery in the West.

10 февраля 2013, 03:33

Amory Lovins: Climate Change: No Breakthroughs Needed, Mr. President

Co-authored with Thomas Dinwoodie In his recent New Republic interview, President Obama said we "need some big technological breakthrough" to tackle climate change. Mr. President -- our nation already has the technologies to protect the climate while advancing prosperity. Here's how. Your National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed just last June how to produce 80 to 90 percent of America's electricity from proven, reliable and increasingly competitive renewable sources like the sun and wind. That confirmed the findings of Rocky Mountain Institute's peer-reviewed study Reinventing Fire, introduced by the heads of Shell Oil and Exelon and endorsed by President Clinton. RMI showed how to run a 2.6-fold-bigger U.S. economy by 2050 with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, a $5 trillion dollar net savings, 82-86 percent lower carbon emissions, and no new inventions, with the transition led by business for growth and profit. The U.S. is already started towards a clean energy system based on technologies cost-competitive today in many markets and, unlike traditional generation, with steadily declining costs. These new winners include energy efficiency, solar, wind, and flexible demand through a smart grid, integrated with geothermal, biomass, hydro, and others. Soon most renewables will compete almost anywhere without subsidies -- especially if fossil-fuel subsidies are phased out too, as the G8 nations have agreed to do. Let's examine the biggest three -- efficiency, solar and wind. Energy efficiency can save 44 percent of projected 2050 electricity needs through proven building and industrial technologies that pay back far faster than any new source of supply. Wasting far less energy and getting the rest at lower and stable prices would powerfully boost jobs and growth. In many states today, homeowners and businesses get immediate savings by letting entrepreneurs finance solar power on their roof, with no money down. Falling costs reminiscent of cellphones and DVD players have roughly doubled U.S. solar deployment every year for the past five years. While overall capacity is presently low, 100 percent of our nation's annual electricity needs (after efficiency improvements) could be served with just seven more doublings of solar, readily achieved in the next few decades. Such is the power of exponential growth. Windpower's growth has been equally explosive. Iowa alone is now 20 percent wind-powered, and with only three more doublings, will receive all its electricity from wind while exporting the excess -- its current goal for 2030. That's putting millions in the pockets of Iowa farmers and county treasuries. Conventional wisdom is wrong that solar and wind aren't viable without a breakthrough in electricity storage. Analysis and experience prove that 60-80 percent solar and windpower -- sited across a region, forecasted, and balanced by flexible supply and demand -- can keep the lights on with often less storage or backup than traditional giant power stations need now. That's how Germany, without adding storage, is already one-fourth renewable-powered, and at times last spring met over half its electric load just with solar power. A smart grid will make this even more successful and resilient. Freeing American mobility from oil is another key to a richer, cooler, safer world. Deploying new DOE, DOD, and industry technologies could do this at an average cost of $25 per saved barrel. Ultralight, supersafe structures can make electric autos affordable by needing two-thirds fewer batteries. Over 25 varieties of electric and plug-in hybrid autos are on the market today, twice as many as two years ago. Smart charging and discharging of electric autos can even stabilize the grid and store renewable power. These technologies scale faster than any other. No form of traditional generation -- coal, gas, or nuclear -- scales nearly as fast as efficiency, solar, and wind. Gigawatts of solar and wind can be added in months -- not the years to decades required for traditional power plants. Cloudy Germany installed three gigawatts of solar in the month of December 2011 alone. That is 1.6 times more than was installed in the entire U.S. Germany's scale-up has cut its solar-system costs to half of ours. While we have these technologies, of course vibrant R & D investments are vital to keep America competitive and make clean energy even cheaper. Your Administration is wise to keep these strong. Many climate scientists are calling for an end to fossil fuels in the next several decades to avoid severe climate change. This goal is aggressive but achievable, with competitive advantage, lower energy bills, and a stronger economy. Other countries are not waiting. China, Japan and India are tipping toward renewables; much of Europe already has. If we wait, they will own the future, our costs will rise, and so will risks to climate and global stability. Mr. President, we have the technologies. Please lead us in removing the barriers to scaling them quickly to save our climate, protect our economy, and restore our energy security. Amory Lovins is Chairman and Chief Scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute where Thomas Dinwoodie, former CEO of SunPower Corporation, Systems, is Lead Trustee.

04 февраля 2013, 20:43

Rise Of The Preppers: 50 Of The Best Prepper Websites And Blogs On The Internet

Michael Snyder, ContributorActivist Post Are you preparing for the collapse of society?  If so, the truth is that you are definitely not alone.  The number of preppers in the U.S. has absolutely exploded in recent years.  It has been estimated that there are now approximately 3 million preppers in the United States, and Doomsday Preppers is currently the highest rated show on the National Geographic channel.  In fact, you could be living next to a prepper and never even know it. All over America, families are transforming spare rooms into long-term food storage pantries, planting survival gardens, unplugging from the grid, converting their homes over to alternative sources of energy, taking self-defense courses and stocking up on just about everything that you can imagine. The re-election of Barack Obama and other recent events seem to have given the prepper movement even more momentum.  For example, in January the U.S. Mint broke all kinds of records and sold nearly half a billion dollars worth of gold and silver coins to the public.  Not only that, Americans bought enough guns during the last two months of 2012 alone to supply the entire armies of China and India.  When it comes to prepping, nobody can match the passion that Americans put into it. So what are all of these people prepping for?Well, the truth is that no two preppers have the exact same motivation.  There is a general consensus among preppers that our world is becoming increasingly unstable, but when you sit down and talk with them you find out that there are a whole host of different civilization-killing events that various preppers are concerned about.  Some are preparing for the collapse of the economy.  Others are extremely concerned about the potential for crippling natural disasters and catastrophic earth changes. To other preppers, the rise of the "Big Brother" surveillance grid that is being constructed all around us is the greatest danger, and many of them warn of the tyrannical agenda of the New World Order. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; Terrorism, killer pandemics, EMP attacks, World War III, martial law, solar megastorms, asteroid strikes and societal chaos are some of the other things that many preppers are worried about.  There are even some preppers that are not worried about any "threats" at all - they just want to get "back to the land" and want to become less dependent on the system. Whatever the motivation, it is undeniable that the prepper movement has gotten very large and that it continues to grow. In fact, there was a recent article in the New York Times about preppers that was actually written by a prepper entitled "The Preppers Next Door"...To the unprepared, the very word 'prepper' is likely to summon images of armed zealots hunkered down in bunkers awaiting the End of Days, but the reality, at least here in New York, is less dramatic. Local Preppers are doctors, doormen, charter school executives, subway conductors, advertising writers and happily married couples from the Bronx. They are no doubt people that you know — your acquaintances and neighbors. People, I’ll admit, like myself.I was absolutely amazed that one of the key mouthpieces of the establishment, the New York Times, would publish an article that was mostly positive about preppers, because the truth is that prepping is essentially a huge expression of a lack of faith in the establishment.   Even the article admitted as much...PREPPING IS THE BIG SHORT: a bet not just against a city, or a country or a government, but against the whole idea of sustainable civilization. For that reason, it chafes against one of polite society’s last remaining taboos — that the way we live is not simply plagued by certain problems, but is itself insolubly problematic.And that is exactly right.  There are millions of us that are entirely convinced that the world around us is becoming increasingly unstable and that "the system" will not be there to take care of us when everything falls to pieces. With each passing day, even more Americans lose faith in the system and begin prepping.  If you are one of those new preppers, there are actually dozens of great websites out there on the Internet where you can get an education about prepping for free.  The list of websites and blogs that I have compiled below contains more articles and resources than you could ever possibly need.  Hopefully many of you will find this list to be extremely helpful. The following are 50 of the best prepper websites and blogs on the Internet...1. Survival Blog2. American Preppers Network3. The Survival Mom4. SHTFPlan.com5. Survival 4 Christians6. Urban Survival7. Backdoor Survival8. Off Grid Survival9. Modern Survival Online10. The Survivalist Blog11. The Suburban Prepper12. The Great Northern Prepper13. Prepper Website14. The Survival Podcast15. Doom And Bloom16. Provident Living Today17. Prepper.org18. Prepared Christian19. SHTFblog.com20. Survival Cache21. Modern Survival Blog22. Rural Revolution23. Preparedness Advice Blog24. Prep-Blog.com25. Survival And Prosperity26. TEOTWAWKI Blog27. The Neighbor Network28. The Apartment Prepper29. Armageddon Online30. The Berkey Guy Blog31. The Home For Survival32. My Family Survival Plan33. Prepography33. Prepper Dashboard34. Bacon And Eggs35. SHTF School36. Canadian Preppers Network37. Maximum Survival38. Survivor Jane39. Prepping To Survive40. SaltnPrepper41. SGTReport42. SHTF Wiki43. Jewish Preppers44. Survival Magazine45. Survival Week46. Prepper Forums47. Survivalist Boards48. Tactical Intelligence49. The Prepared Ninja50. Common Sense Homesteading The sad truth is that our world is becoming increasingly unstable in a whole bunch of different ways and we all need to learn how to prepare for the difficult years ahead. Unfortunately, most Americans simply are not prepared for much of anything. For example, a large percentage of Americans do not even have enough savings to get them through a single financial emergency.  According to one recent report, approximately 44 percent of all households in the United States are just one unexpected event away from financial disaster. Most American families do not have much food stored up either.  One recent survey discovered that 55 percent of all Americans have less than three days supply of food in their homes. Could that possibly be accurate?  Do people really keep that little food in their homes?Another survey asked Americans how long they think they could survive if the entire electrical grid went down and there was no more power for an extended period of time.  Incredibly, 21 percent of those who responded said that they would survive for less than a week, and an additional 28 percent of those who responded said that they would survive for less than two weeks.  Close to 75 percent of those who responded said that they would be dead before the two month mark. So who are the crazy ones? Are the people trying to become more independent and self-sufficient crazy, or are the people who have complete and total faith that the system will take care of them no matter what happens actually the crazy ones? I don't know about you, but I would prefer for myself and my family to at least have a chance to survive if society melts down for some reason. What about you? Are you a prepper? Do you know some preppers? Do you believe that people should be prepping? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below...This article first appeared here at The Truth.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. 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11 января 2013, 16:36

Behind China's Roaring Solar Industry

Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Chinese solar stocks had soared based on market expectations that demand in China for alternative energy will increase given the Chinese government's increasing solar capacity targets. Earlier this week, China's National Energy Administration announced its intention to add 10 gigawatts of solar power capacity in 2013, more than twice its current level. According to Barron's and others, China has already begun implementing its ambitious plan to increase installations. It previously approved the Golden Sun initiative for the first half of this year and committed prodigious amounts of government cash to the sector. China has also begun offering subsidies for rooftop solar projects. These aren't controversial production-side subsidies (of the kind that have been challenged as contravening international trade agreements) but rather incentivizing domestic subsidies intended to help Chinese citizens and organizations to purchase solar systems at an affordable price. This week, the share price of Trina Solar Ltd. the nation's third-biggest maker of solar panels, jumped to the highest level in five months even as that of LDK Solar Co. rallied 7.7 percent. Although some commentators may see this uptick in China's solar investments (and equity values) as an intriguing short term phenomenon, we at The Boston Consulting Group believe it reflects a public commitment on the part of China's government to embrace clean energy sources and to seek economic growth that is less energy dependent, as well as these profound long-term trends: A booming Chinese population of ever more confident middle class consumers. We calculate that between 2010 and 2020, the people of China and India will have consumed goods and services worth a total of $64 trillion. Chinese consumers will spend $41.5 trillion over this period, with annual expenditures rising from $2.0 trillion to $6.2 trillion, an increase of 203 percent. Many of these newly affluent consumers are purchasing homes for the first time. In 1990, there were 227 million houses in China — by 2010, there were 371 million. Increased urbanization, construction, and vertical living, driving tremendous new demand for sources of safe and renewable energy. More than 15 percent of the country's investment goes into real estate, and around 12 percent of GDP comes from property-related industries. In 2010, for the first time, China overtook the United States as the world's largest center for construction, investing more than $1 trillion in building projects. Over half of this money was spent on new housing. Heavy government investments in the nation's infrastructure. China is projected to spend $113 billion per year on trains and railway infrastructure. The new high-speed line connecting Shanghai to Hangzhou, which opened in late October 2010, cost $4 billion and took just two years to build — an astonishingly rapid rate, given the glacial pace at which large infrastructure projects proceed in the West. Even larger investments are pouring into housing, waterworks, mass transit systems, power plants, natural gas distribution networks, and electric grids. We calculate that China needs to make an investment of $17.3 trillion between now and 2030: around 40 percent on housing, 27 percent on water infrastructure, 16 percent on roads and railways, 13 percent on electricity networks, and the rest on telecommunications, ports, and airports. The tremendous boom in China's consuming classes, the phenomenal growth of its cities, the explosion in its housing sector and overall infrastructure, all add up to significant new opportunities for all kinds of companies. Likely winners could include house builders and their suppliers, the specialist furnishings businesses, the makers of household appliances, as well as suppliers of commodities such as corn, fertilizer, copper, cotton, steel, cement, oil, coal, gas, electricity, and providers of transportation equipment of all kinds. But even more, these growth trends in China represent tremendous new opportunities for companies capable of developing innovative solutions to some of the most formidable problems of the new world, especially those capable of creating sustainable, nonpolluting solutions (of the kind, for instance, represented by solar panels). We believe that billions of dollars, then, will be made not just in delivering clean safe energy to China's exploding urban centers, but also in providing China with higher-quality, safer, sustainable food. Billions of dollars will be made developing and marketing completely recyclable packaging, and end-to-end distribution systems that require 80 percent less energy and have total system loss ratios of 50 percent of the current model. Billions of dollars will be made in the water market — providing systems that conserve water and deliver clean potable water to a nation where droughts and polluted drinking water are still all too common. Billions of dollars will be made, too, providing health care to the 200 million plus over 65 year old Chinese population of 2020. The opportunities are there — what is your firm doing about them?

05 декабря 2012, 19:28

Lighting Africa Program Awards Innovative Solutions

 STORY HIGHLIGHTS• Five off-grid lighting products win awards at Lighting Africa conference• Over 3.8 million people in Africa now have access to safe, clean, affordable lighting solutions • Innovation counts in Africa where about 600 million people and over 10 million micro-enterprises still do not have access to electricityDecember 5, 2012In Dakar, Senegal, five innovative off-grid lighting products were recognized with the Lighting Africa Global 2012 Outstanding Product Award.This honor enables manufacturers to market their lighting products using the logo of the successful program—Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program that helps build markets for off-grid lighting products in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, Lighting Africa has helped bring clean, safe and affordable lighting to over 3.8 million people.We must encourage development of quality, affordable lights because they are dramatically improving access to clean energy in low-income populations. || Meikie Van Ginneken, Energy Sector Manager for West and Central Africa, World BankThe awards were presented at the Third International Off-Grid Lighting Africa Conference and Trade Fair, held Nov. 13-15 in Dakar, to track the progress in expanding access to off-grid lighting in Africa.  Rewarding innovation is the key to providing consumers with more affordable choices in lighting solutions. “We must encourage development of quality, affordable lights because they are dramatically improving access to clean energy in low-income populations,” said Meike van Ginneken, the Bank’s Energy Sector Manager for West and Central Africa.“We are beginning to see some government agencies embracing these products as part of their rural electrification strategies.”Every off-grid lighting innovation counts, especially in Africa where about 600 million people and over 10 million micro-enterprises still do not have access to electricity. The competition attracted 25 entries under three categories:1) BUDGET (less than US$30)Winner: Marathoner Beacon MB2 090 (SooLED B1- Asia brand Name) - a competitively priced single-task light powerful enough to light a room. Highlight - “Super” setting provides 92 lumens for 5.1 hours after one day of solar charging.Runner Up: Firefly 2.5 Mobile. Highlight - “High” setting provides 63 lumens for 3.6 hours after one day of solar charging. “Medium” setting provides 18 lumens for 13.8 hours after one day of solar charging.2) MID-RANGE (between US$30-72)Winner: Greenlight Planet Sun King™ Pro – this multipurpose lantern that can be used as a flash light/torch, a task light and a room light. Highlight - “Turbo” setting provides 110 lumens for 6 hours after one day of solar charging. “Normal” setting provides 44 lumens for 15 hours after one day of solar charging.Runner Up: Sundial TSL01 – an ambient room light. Highlight - "High" setting provides 87 lumens for 4.1 hours after one day of solar charging. “Low” setting provides 34 lumens for 13 hours after one day of solar charging.3) PREMIUM (between US$72-135)Winner: Marathoner Beacon MB2 380/SooLED B3 – three lamp home lighting system. Highlight - the main lamp provides 210 lumens of light for 5.3 hours after a day of solar charging. The secondary lamps provide 92 lumens for 5.7 hours each after a day of solar charging.Competing products were put through rigorous laboratory tests and were evaluated by rural customers in Senegal, Kenya, and India. The judges comprised a panel of experts from the UN Foundation, the German development agency GIZ, the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, and the World Bank Group’s Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia programs.The conference, the third in six years, showed that Lighting Africa is on track to meet its targets of supporting the private sector supply 250 million in Africa with better lighting products by 2030.More than 300 off-grid lighting stakeholders and over 40 exhibitors met to showcase the latest off-grid lighting technologies and business models to increase access to clean lighting for rural, low income populations.Expanding Access with Off-Grid LightingThese awards showcase manufacturers’ versatility and responsiveness to the challenge of bringing to market high quality yet affordable products that meet the energy needs of people without electricity. || Jérôme Crétégny, Senior Country Officer, IFC operations in Senegal, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali and MauritaniaIn terms of sales, the market for off-grid lighting products in Africa grew by 300% from 2008 to 2012. An IFC publication, From Gap to Opportunity; Business Models for Scaling up Energy Access, shows that the global energy-for-the-poor market is a $37 billion opportunity, making the market attractive for those with innovative off-grid solutions. Key Trends and Developments in the Africa Off-Grid Lighting Market, shows a robust appetite for quality solar lanterns with sales doubling annually over the past three years.In tune with the opportunity, this year’s conference was dominated by commercial players with high quality products. Discussions focused on what the industry could do to expand product distribution, marketing and business development initiatives in order to scale up operations, and further increase access to clean energy in Africa. To sustain this growth, Lighting Africa will develop working capital and trade finance facilities across the supply chain and deepen its focus on building consumer trust in modern, quality assured lighting products through consumer education. The World Bank will accelerate its work with client countries to build Lighting Africa activities into energy access programs that it finances, helping spur consumer demand and supply chains to the base of the pyramid.Jérôme Crétégny, Senior Country Officer responsible for IFC operations in Senegal, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Mauritania said: “These awards showcase manufacturers’ versatility and responsiveness to the challenge of bringing to market high quality yet affordable products that meet the energy needs of people without electricity. This convinces us that everyone can enjoy clean energy by 2030.”ResourcesWorld Bank Energy WebsiteSustainable Energy to End PovertyLighting Africa 

15 ноября 2012, 09:00

Initial environment assessment report for 'system strengthening - XVII in the Southern regional grid'

The objectives of the Fifth Power System Development Project are to strengthen the transmission system in order to increase reliable power exchanges between regions and states of India. In order to achieve this objective, the project will strengthen the transmission system in the power deficit regions and increase inter-regional transmission capacity. Some of the negative impacts and their mitigation measures are: 1) avoid operations in environmentally sensitive areas such as forests, sanctuary, national park, tiger/biosphere reserves, eco-sensitive zone, and coastal area covered under coastal regulation zone (CRZ); 2) consider environmental implications of location, terrain, and sensitive areas in impact identification and mitigate these with innovative/practical engineering solutions; 3) application of efficient and safe technology practices; 4) abate pollution in all activities and operations; 5) minimize energy losses and promote energy efficiency; 6) the route of the proposed transmission line does not involve any human habitation; 7) the route of transmission line does not affect any public utility services such as playgrounds, schools, and other establishments; 8) the line route does not pass through any sanctuary, national park, tiger reserve, biosphere reserve, eco-sensitive zone, and coastal area covered under CRZ ; and 9) the line route does not infringe any area of natural resources.

15 ноября 2012, 01:00

UPDATED: Don’t Rely on Reliance Power’s Ability to Generate Sustainable Profits

CORRECTION: It has come to our attention that our original article, dated 25 Oct 2012, contained certain inaccuracies. We would like to correct those in the following revised article, below: Reliance Power Limited is one of India’s largest power generating companies, but it’s in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these days, including controversy over some key coal supply contracts. Together with its heavy debt load, this puts the quality of its profits into question. Anyone who followed the drama following the 2002 death of the founder of Reliance Industries Dhirubhai Ambani, might have hoped that after his widow, Kokilaben Ambani, divided the group’s assets between their two feuding sons, life would proceed more calmly and the business outlook for both would look more upbeat. But at least in the case of Reliance Power Ltd. (RPWR.IN) a division of Reliance Group (RPOL.NS) headed by Anil Ambani, the company seems to have sailed into choppy waters. Indeed, Reliance Power’s array of projects both at home in India and overseas are encountering an array of problems. Its construction of a coal mine in Indonesia has fallen behind schedule. Chitrangi pace of development is tied to shortages of coal supplies from the Sasan mines. (We’ll get to the root of that problem, which stems from a contract issue, shortly.) The company’s Samalkot gas-fueled power plant also is likely to be delayed by at least two years as it scrambles to finalize gas supply issues with the government. The project is awaiting allocation of domestic natural gas from the government. Overall, Reliance’s relationship with the Indian government is coming under a lot of additional scrutiny. Since the 2011 scandal surrounding the licensing of 2G wireless spectrum in India, amid accusations of bribery that followed revelations that some of these spectrum contracts were offered at discounts, any bids by any company for any state-owned resource have attracted a heightened degree of oversight. Reliance Group’s activities, in particular, seem to have run afoul of best practices. It won government approval to develop three blocks of coal reserves near a 4,000 megawatt power plant it was developing (the Sasan mines and project), but the government went further, allowing it use the surplus coal from Sasan to supply the Chitrangi power project. Since Chitrangi would be supplying power to the power grid at a higher tariff than the Sasan project, Reliance Power was able to capture the difference in the form of profit. An Indian federal government auditor calculated in a recent report that the government cost the country some $33 billion of lost revenues by allocating coal reserves and at a fraction of their real market price, although the auditor does exclude the Sasan coal blocks from the presumptive loss to the country . The report has caused an uproar in the Indian parliament, with accusations of illegal transactions flying fast and furious, and the risk of litigation is likely to hang over the industry for some time to come. While the company’s projects are running into trouble, the cost of paying for them has been rising steadily. As you can see in the chart below on the left, capital spending by Reliance Power has been rising steadily for the last five years, to reach a whopping 108 billion rupees ($2 billion) in the year ended March 31, 2012. As a result, the company’s cash flow position is poor, with negative free cash flow of -$2 billion for the year ending March 2012. These aren’t automatically a reason to worry: if the company’s new projects come online in a timely manner and deliver revenues and earnings as anticipated, the financial picture will improve. If these projects are delayed, as seems possible, the consequences are worrying. Reliance Power’s long-term debt has ballooned to more than $2.5 billion as of March 2012, from just $300 million three years ago. As interest payments on these loans increase, the pressure on the company to bring its projects online in a timely manner so that it has the cash flow to service those payments will only increase. Over the longer run, this kind of capital spending/cash flow trend is not sustainable and the company’s inability to deliver strong cash flow to back up any earnings will call into question the sustainability of those profits. Across the board, Reliance Power’s financial metrics appear to be deteriorating. Its margins continue to fall, with net profit margins tumbling from 72% a year ago to 43% today. Operating profit margins also have decreased, from 95% a year ago to 70% today. These trends explain why Reliance Power scores a mere 4 out of a possible 100 on the StarMine EQ model. That signals that its earnings already are appear to be unsustainable, a conclusion that, given the company’s high debt and rising interest expenses, is a worrying one for investors to ponder. Analysts continue to cut their estimates for both Reliance Power’s revenues and its profits for the current fiscal year (ending March 2013), and for the following year as well, as can be seen in the chart below. That explains why the company earns a score of only 8 of a possible 100 on the StarMine Analyst Revisions Model, a low ranking that also signals analysts are likely to continue those downward earnings revisions. As if Reliance Power isn’t in enough hot water with its finances and its operations, the upcoming elections in 2014 may bring to power a new government that may well decide, as a matter of policy, to review any existing contracts. Government contracts to develop coal mines and build and operate coal-fired generating plants may have been lucrative for Reliance Power in the past, but they are likely to be a source of concern and uncertainty going forward, given the company’s several government contracts that enable it to acquire the coal and natural gas it needs to fire up its power plants.  Learn more about how StarMine analytics can help you pinpoint critical developments in your portfolio or watch list.Request a free trial today.  

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14 ноября 2012, 23:54

Интересное в мире промышленности и киберпространства за 14.11.12

1)Европейские производители фотоэлектрических элементов пустились в самостоятельное плаваниеЕвропейский рынок фотовольтаики проходит переходный этап в связи с окончанием эры щедрых государственных субсидий.2)"НПК Уралвагонзавод" прогнозирует профицит вагоновВ краткосрочной перспективе прогнозируется профицит вагонов, снижение их стоимости и ставок аренды, об этом заявил руководитель коммерческого департамента дивизиона железнодорожной техники ОАО "НПК Уралвагонзавод" Алексей Мясников в ходе ежегодной конференции "Рынок железнодорожного подвижного состава".3)Россия и ЮАР планируют подписать соглашение по "Радиоастрону"Россия и ЮАР планируют до марта 2013 года подписать соглашение по использованию в рамках российского проекта "Радиоастрон" ("Спектр-Р") инфраструктуры ЮАР, заявил журналистам министр природных ресурсов и экологии России Сергей Донской.4)Второй спутник серии "Глонасс-К" будет запущен в ближайшие месяцыВторой спутник серии "Глонасс-К" будет запущен в конце декабря текущего года - январе 2013 года, сообщил во вторник, 13 ноября, журналистам замгендиректора ОАО "Российские космические системы" (РКС) Григорий Ступак.5)"Объединенный грузовой флот" принял в эксплуатацию третье судно проекта RSD18Китайская верфь в городе Янгжоу завершила постройку многоцелевого сухогрузного судна дедвейтом 6125/5185 тонн "UCF-1" (строительный номер RU-WH01) проекта RSD18.6)ОДК поможет доработать китайский двигатель CJ-1000AОАО "Управляющая компания "Объединенная двигателестроительная корпорация" (ОДК) и китайская компания AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine (ACAE) провели переговоры о возможном вхождении ОДК в программу разработки и производства двигателя CJ-1000A.7)На территории Абаканвагонмаша планируется создать технопаркГлава Хакасии рассказал о встрече с руководителем компании РУСАЛ Олегом Дерипаской, который обратился к Хакасии с предложением о создании на базе ОАО "Абакнвагонмаш" технопарка.8)"Северная верфь" приступила к строительству "Эльбруса"На ОАО Судостроительный завод "Северная верфь", согласно ранее озвученным планам, прошла закладка судна проекта 23120.9)ОАО "Мосэлектрощит" изготовило инновационную разработкуОАО "Мосэлектрощит", входящий в Группу компаний "Мосэлектро", разработало и изготовило инновационный токопровод ТЗК на ток 6000А (до этого максимальный ток составлял 4000А) для подстанции "Кировская" ОАО "МРСК-Волги", который будет применен в рамках комплексной реконструкции подстанции, об этом сообщается в официальном пресс-релизе ОАО "Мосэлектро"10)АСПО построило морскую стационарную платформуНа головной площадке Астраханского судостроительного производственного объединения (АСПО) состоится торжественное мероприятие посвященное завершению строительства стационарной платформы для месторождения "Жданов" на Туркменском шельфе Каспийского моря.11)Airbus получил заказ от мексиканского авиаперевозчикаАвиакомпания Interjet (Мексика) и европейский авиастроительный концерн Airbus подписали контракт на поставку 40 самолетов модели A320neo.12)Иран построит нефтяные танкера для ВенесуэлыИран построит 4 нефтяных танкера для Венесуэлы и инвестирует в ряд проектов по переработке нефти в стране, передает Trend со ссылкой на местные СМИ. 13)Китай закупит около пяти тысяч самолетов за 20 летПотребность китайской экономики в новых самолетах оценивается в 4960 штук до 2031 года, об этом сообщает агентство "Синьхуа" со ссылкой на отчет местной компании COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China). 14)Китай показал новый ударный БПЛАНа девятом авиационно-космическом салоне в Чжухае Китай представил новый ударный беспилотник Wing Loong (Pterodactyl).15)Украина и Индонезия планируют наращивать сотрудничество в оборонной сфереКак сообщает пресс-служба госкомпании "Укрспецэкспорт", в ходе переговоров украинской стороны с министром обороны Индонезии Пурномо Юсгианторо в рамках международной оборонной выставки IndoDefence-2012 глава индонезийского военного ведомства принял предложение украинских партнеров направить в Украину официальную делегацию Минобороны Индонезии для ознакомления с возможностями украинского ОПК.16)Иранские военные протестируют новые ракетно-артиллерийские системыИран представил 3 новых ракетных комплекса собственного производства.17)ЗТР изготовит 11 реакторов для ИндииПАО "Запорожтрансформатор" (ЗТР) в составе консорциума с индийской компанией Crompton Greaves Ltd. (CGL) подписало новые контракты с государственной сетевой компанией Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL), сообщается в официальном пресс-релизе организации.ЗТР изготовит для Индии пять реакторов 80 МВАр, 765 кВ и шесть реакторов 110 МВАр 765 кВ. Общая мощность составляет 1060 МВА. Оборудование предназначено для подстанций Барейли, Варда/Аурангабад и Пуне напряжением 765 кВ.18)Intel планирует инвестировать в Sharp около 500 млн долларовПо информации японского информационного агентства Kyodo News, корпорация Intel находится на завершающей стадии переговоров с Sharp относительно инвестиций в бизнес последней19)ЛЕЧИТЬ ДИАБЕТ В БУДУЩЕМ БУДУТ ПРОТИВОВОСПАЛИТЕЛЬНЫМИ СРЕДСТВАМИИсследователи Калифорнийского университета в Сан-Диего провели эксперименты, проливающие свет на механизм возникновения сахарного диабета второго типа. Эта разновидность диабета начинается со снижения чувствительности к инсулину, гормону, который регулирует содержание глюкозы в плазме крови. Хотя в этом случае поджелудочная железа продолжает вырабатывать инсулин, иногда даже в избытке, его уже не хватает для нормальной жизнедеятельности организма.

12 ноября 2012, 20:40

A Business-Friendly Climate Agenda for Obama's Second Term

President Obama has some unfinished business to attend to, and taking care of it will require help and support from corporate leaders across the country. When he ran for president in 2008, Obama made three big promises: end the Iraq War, extend health care coverage to all Americans, and take federal action to reduce the threat of global climate change. He delivered on the first two. And though his Administration made some progress on emissions reduction by doubling federal fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, the president chose not to move comprehensive climate legislation through a recalcitrant Senate in the wake of the Great Recession. After 2010, climate all but disappeared from the national conversation. Hurricane Sandy put it back on the map. Sandy is just the latest reminder that climate change, which fed the storm's fury by warming Atlantic waters and loading moisture into the atmosphere, isn't going away. Since January, we have seen record drought, rising commodities prices, the lowest Arctic ice levels in recorded history, and a rash of costly extreme weather events. In fact, 2012 is likely to be the hottest year since accurate record-keeping began in the late 19th century. And as Sandy's $50 billion estimated price tag demonstrates, the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of taking action. So what can the President do to fulfill his promise, reiterated in his victory speech, to ensure that America "isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet"? Some argue that he can't do much, since he faces a divided Congress where some members still reject the reality of climate change. But as Obama is fond of saying, presidents are not elected to do the easy things, and political realities are not set in stone. Sandy has not only restarted the climate conversation in this country; it has also changed the calculus of what is politically possible. Here are five steps the president should take to address climate change — from no-brainer ideas almost everyone can agree on to ambitious items that would require Congressional action. None is likely to be successful without the active support and participation of the business community. 1. Feed the conversation. President Obama can start by simply by talking about the issue — adding to the national climate conversation that began in Sandy's wake, and helping Americans connect the dots between emissions, climate change, and extreme weather. After two years of climate silence in America, this conversation is crucial — and if it is going to lead anywhere, it must include voices from business: Insurance companies talking about the cost of climate inaction. Main Street organizations talking about the need for community resilience in the face of severe weather events. Local first responders, who are often volunteers with day jobs in the business community, talking about the deadly weather trends they are experiencing. It is worth remembering that strong business support helped secure passage of the House climate bill in 2009, and though that effort failed in the Senate, no serious legislation can move without the backing of men and women in the engine room of the American economy. To be politically viable, climate solutions must be economically sustainable. 2. Reduce climate accelerants. President Obama can take immediate steps to reduce potent greenhouse gases other than carbon, such as methane and fluorinated gases used in refrigerants and industrial applications. Although carbon gets most of the attention, these substances are "climate accelerants" — they fuel global warming the same way gasoline fuels a fire. Consider methane, the primary component in natural gas. Though it burns cleaner than coal, when it leaks into the atmosphere uncombusted, its effect on the climate is 72 times more potent than that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. And methane is leaking from the entire natural gas system — from wells, pipelines, and storage facilities. Shockingly, no one knows precisely how much methane is leaking — that's why Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Texas are partnering with nine natural gas companies to measure the leaks. The good news is that we have the technology to detect and reduce leakage — and no one should be against common sense measures to prevent the waste of this precious natural resource. Depending on how much leakage we are able to stop, this initiative could have the same climate benefit as shutting down a third of the coal-fired power plants in the United States. Smart regulations are needed to address leaks from oil and gas drilling; the Obama Administration took a first step in this direction earlier in the year, but there's much more to do.. Natural gas companies such as Southwestern Energy have found that the cost of plugging leaks is offset by selling the recovered gas; the industry benefits from leak reduction and should support these rules. We also need to phase out the use of fluorinated gases, which are, pound for pound, hundreds or even thousands of times more potent than CO2. Although today they represent only a small part of global emissions, their use is rising fast, especially in India and China. The U.S. has proposed bringing them under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and we should begin ending their use here at home. Fortunately, U.S. companies are technology leaders in developing acceptable substitutes. Just as business leadership was crucial when we turned back the threat to the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbons, it will be essential today. 3. Start a clean energy race. The Obama Administration can do much more to promote energy efficiency and clean, renewable technologies. To begin, it can get serious about reducing subsidies for fossil fuels, which have slanted the playing field for too long. An industry that records hundreds of billions in profits every year needs no further help from the federal government. Obama should also continue tax credits for green, renewable energy while increasing R&D funding. Wind and solar are almost cost competitive with coal, and they're cheaper if externalities are taken into account. An extra boost in R&D funding could make all the difference. Congress should pass national clean energy standards, which would require states to get more energy from renewables. Some 30 U.S. states have them, China has them — why shouldn't the U.S.? The administration should also encourage private capital to invest in low-carbon energy. This means getting state public utility commissions and regional power market operators to remove barriers to investments in efficiency and renewables. The emerging, interactive "smart grid" can also be a green grid, encouraging distributed power generation and demand response that reduces the need for baseload generation. It's not sexy, but it is hugely important. Obama should own it in his second term, and every business owner who would prefer to sell solar power to her local utility, instead of buying power from it, should get on board. 4. Use the Clean Air Act. As it began to do in its first term, the Obama administration should use the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, under authority confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA. This means vigorously defending the clean-air rules the Obama Administrations already put in place, including the historic higher fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks and restrictions on the emission of mercury and other toxic air pollution for power plants. Keeping these rules in place will stop millions of tons of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere in the future. The Obama Administration should also set CO2 emission standards for new and existing power plants through flexible and economically efficient approaches, including emissions trading and averaging, so power companies can meet standards across their fleet of plants and not at individual facilities. The EPA should design these standards in a way that rewards states that devise their own emissions reduction programs, as California and the Northeastern states have done. And it is time for business leaders who understand that climate change imposes real costs to accept that climate action has some manageable costs as well, and that we no longer have the luxury of ducking them. 5. Put a price on carbon. Economists from across the political spectrum, including N. Gregory Mankiw, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and Arthur Laffer on the right, agree that the most economically efficient way to cut carbon pollution is by imposing a price via a cap or tax. Either would be a powerful incentive to produce cleaner power and could be accompanied by lower taxes on labor or capital, easing the impact on working families and business. As we move toward the fiscal cliff, there is plenty of discussion in Washington, from stakeholders on both sides of the aisle, about raising revenue through a carbon fee as part of a grand bargain on the budget. A carbon tax starting at $20 per metric and rising at 6% a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, according to HSBC analyst Nick Robins. "Applied to the Congressional Budget Office's 2012 baseline, this would halve the fiscal deficit by 2022," he wrote in a note to clients. Such a proposal would surely encounter fierce opposition, and one White House official has already signaled that Obama isn't proposing one now. But we will never solve the problem unless our leaders begin to talk openly about it and include all costs in the discussion: the cost of climate action, the cost of climate inaction, and the cost of climate resilience. Sandy focused attention on the need to harden our shorelines and communities against storm surges; sea gates to protect New York Harbor from the next big one could cost at least $10 billion. If that turns out to be the best course of action, who is going to pay for it? Addressing such vulnerabilities is essential, but it amounts to treating one potentially fatal symptom of the problem. If we raise the necessary funds via a carbon price, then we are addressing the cause as well as a symptom. And no amount of infrastructure hardening will protect our cities unless we also reduce emissions. That's the kind of grown-up conversation we need to have, and there's no one better suited to lead it than the president.

29 октября 2012, 20:07

The Radical Beauty of Three Simple Management Practices

Are you among the 79%? In our research into more than 8,000 companies in 20 countries, 79% of organizations reported that their management practices were above average. That should have been very good news. But we also conducted our own analysis and found that only 15% of U.S. companies, and fewer than 5% elsewhere, scored above a 4 on a five-point management-practices scale we created. There was no correlation at all between our scores and the self-assessments we had gathered. The vast majority of organizations, it turns out, have a highly inflated view of their management practices. The reality is that many of them are unable to take such basic steps as setting achievable benchmarks, removing underperformers, collecting useful data, or offering coherent bonus schemes to motivate employees. These deficiencies are as common in health care and education as they are in manufacturing and retail. The good news is that much of the opportunity for improvement lies in the hands of people exactly like you — managers of teams, departments, units, and divisions. And even small improvements in practices can have a huge impact: Among manufacturers, for example, we found that a one-point gain on our five-point scale correlates with 23% higher productivity, 14% higher market capitalization, and a 1.4-percentage-point-higher annual sales-growth rate. But can a company really move the needle if it adopts good-management practices? As part of our research, we partnered with the World Bank to offer manufacturers in Tarapur, India, the opportunity to participate in an experiment. Fourteen plants got free, high-quality advice from consultants, who taught them about three management fundamentals: setting targets, establishing incentives, and monitoring performance. The consultants showed the companies how to support long-term goals with tough but achievable short-term performance benchmarks, how to reward high performers with promotions and bonuses while retraining or moving underperformers, and how to collect and analyze performance data to identify opportunities for improvement. The interventions transformed the plants. On average, the manufacturers cut defects by more than 50%, reduced inventory by 20%, and raised output by 10%. They also became far easier for their CEOs to manage, which allowed for the addition of new facilities and the expansion of product lines. Chances are, no one is going to knock on your door and offer free consulting. But managers can have a huge impact by rigorously evaluating their own practices and comparing themselves with others. At our web site, you can quickly benchmark your organization by country and industry on a management-scoring grid. Our analysis tool is based on 18 practices that fall into the three broad categories of targets, incentives, and monitoring. If your company scores well, more power to you. You really are above average! A high score strongly correlates with measures such as productivity, return on capital employed, and firm survival. If your organization doesn't score well, you can start taking steps to push it toward progress in each of those broad areas. We've seen organizations make a good start by identifying which processes they need to change (for example, is product development too slow?) and then devising metrics for monitoring progress over the short and long terms. Ideally, goals should be visible to everyone and should be translated into companywide, group, and individual targets that are tracked frequently. That approach helps companies replace finger-pointing with timely, effective action plans across all organizational functions. Small changes can be effective in driving larger changes later on. In the Indian factories we studied, we typically overcame resistance to improving management practices by piloting changes on a few machines in one corner of the factory. The positive results then opened the way for overhauling the whole plant. Don't expect immediate success. GE, McDonald's, Nike, and Toyota are among the world's top performers today, but they didn't get to be that way overnight. Over the course of many years, they established focused targets and powerful incentives, and they continuously monitored performance, always seeking to improve. On a day-to-day basis, such steps may seem mundane. But their effect over long periods shows how profound — even radical — those simple management practices are. _____________________ HBR's 90th Anniversary: Why Management Matters A Brief History of Inventing Innovation The Real Reason Baseball Players Make So Much Money What Circuit City Learned About Valuing Employees Your Most Pressing Management Problem Right Now More >>

25 октября 2012, 23:37

Don’t Rely on Reliance Energy’s Ability to Generate Sustainable Profits

Reliance Energy is one of India’s largest power generating companies, but it’s in the headlines for all the wrong reasons these days, including controversy over some key coal supply contracts. Together with its heavy debt load, this puts the quality of its profits into question. Anyone who followed the drama following the 2002 death of the founder of Reliance Industries Dhirubhai Ambani, might have hoped that after his widow, Kokilaben Ambani, divided the group’s assets between their two feuding sons, life would proceed more calmly and the business outlook for both would look more upbeat. But at least in the case of Reliance Power Ltd. (RPWR.IN) a division of Reliance Group (RPOL.NS) headed by Anil Ambani, the company seems to have sailed into choppy waters. Indeed, Reliance Power’s array of projects both at home in India and overseas are encountering an array of problems. Its construction of a coal mine in Indonesia has fallen behind schedule. It is building two coal-fired power plants, the Chitrangi and Talaya projects, both of which also have faced delays, with Chitrangi’s slow pace of development tied to shortages of coal supplies from the Sasan mines. (We’ll get to the root of that problem, which stems from a contract issue, shortly.) The company’s Samalkot gas-fueled power plant also is likely to be delayed by at least two years as it scrambles to finalize gas supply issues with the government. The project requires government approval for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in order to proceed. Overall, Reliance’s relationship with the Indian government is coming under a lot of additional scrutiny. Since the 2011 scandal surrounding the licensing of 2G wireless spectrum in India, amid accusations of bribery that followed revelations that some of these spectrum contracts were offered at discounts, any bids by any company for any state-owned resource have attracted a heightened degree of oversight. Reliance Group’s activities, in particular, seem to have run afoul of best practices. It won government approval to develop three blocks of coal reserves near a 4,000 megawatt power plant it was developing (the Sasan mines and project), but the government went further, allowing it use the surplus coal from Sasan to supply the Chitrangi power project. Since Chitrangi would be supplying power to the power grid at a higher tariff than the Sasan project, Reliance Power was able to capture the difference in the form of profit. An Indian federal government auditor calculated in a recent report that the government cost the country some $33 billion of lost revenues by allocating the Sasan coal reserves and many other similar blocks to companies like Reliance at a fraction of their real market price. Reliance itself, the auditor said, walked away with $5.2 billion of “undue benefit”. The report has caused an uproar in the Indian parliament, with accusations of illegal transactions flying fast and furious, and the risk of litigation is likely to hang over Reliance Power for some time to come. While the company’s projects are running into trouble, the cost of paying for them has been rising steadily. As you can see in the chart below on the left, capital spending by Reliance Power has been rising steadily for the last five years, to reach a whopping 108 billion rupees ($2 billion) in the year ended March 31, 2012. As a result, the company’s cash flow position is poor, with negative free cash flow of -$2 billion for the year ending March 2012. These aren’t automatically a reason to worry: if the company’s new projects come online in a timely manner and deliver revenues and earnings as anticipated, the financial picture will improve. If these projects are delayed, as seems possible, the consequences are worrying. Reliance Power’s long-term debt has ballooned to more than $2.5 billion as of March 2012, from just $300 million three years ago. As interest payments on these loans increase, the pressure on the company to bring its projects online in a timely manner so that it has the cash flow to service those payments will only increase. Over the longer run, this kind of capital spending/cash flow trend is not sustainable and the company’s inability to deliver strong cash flow to back up any earnings will call into question the sustainability of those profits. Across the board, Reliance Power’s financial metrics appear to be deteriorating. Its margins continue to fall, with net profit margins tumbling from 72% a year ago to 43% today. Operating profit margins also have decreased, from 95% a year ago to 70% today. These trends explain why Reliance Power scores a mere 4 out of a possible 100 on the StarMine EQ model. That signals that its earnings already are appear to be unsustainable, a conclusion that, given the company’s high debt and rising interest expenses, is a worrying one for investors to ponder. Analysts continue to cut their estimates for both Reliance Power’s revenues and its profits for the current fiscal year (ending March 2013), and for the following year as well, as can be seen in the chart below. That explains why the company earns a score of only 8 of a possible 100 on the StarMine Analyst Revisions Model, a low ranking that also signals analysts are likely to continue those downward earnings revisions. As if Reliance Power isn’t in enough hot water with its finances and its operations, the upcoming elections in 2014 may bring to power a new government that may well decide, as a matter of policy, to review any existing contracts. Government contracts to develop coal mines and build and operate coal-fired generating plants may have been lucrative for Reliance Power in the past, but they are likely to be a source of concern and uncertainty going forward, given the company’s several government contracts that enable it to acquire the coal and natural gas it needs to fire up its power plants.  Learn more about how StarMine analytics can help you pinpoint critical developments in your portfolio or watch list.Request a free trial today.  

13 октября 2012, 18:40

Should Contaminated Food Really Be Killing So Many People?

Bloomberg View Contaminated food sickens 48 million Americans, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths and more than 100,000 hospitalizations each year. That’s right: 3,000 deaths. Hard as this is to believe, it’s easy to see how we got here. It starts with the neglect of the Food and Drug Administration, the agency created to ensure the quality of much of the U.S. food supply, which has been starved of funds for decades. Congress gives the FDA about $1 billion a year for overseeing the bulk of the $1.2 trillion food industry. That’s enough to pay for about 1,100 inspectors, who manage to check only 6 percent of domestic food producers and 0.4 percent of importers each year. More from Bloomberg View-U.S. Electric Grid Gets Regulatory Jolt Into 21st Century-Biden Shows Obama How to Debate Inspection programs paid for by industry have filled the void. As Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue, however, industry-backed inspectors have given the all- clear to producers that should be shut down. In August 2011, for instance, 33 people died from eating cantaloupe contaminated with listeria bacteria. The melons had been grown and processed at a Colorado farm that had passed an inspection by a private company with flying colors. The inspector, a 26-year-old with little experience, raised no objections to the absence of an antimicrobial wash to clean the melons. Nor did the inspector bother to test for bacteria on equipment that handled the melons. He granted the farm a “superior” rating. Deadly Peanuts The cantaloupe poisonings came after nine people died in 2008 from eating peanut butter and peanut products tainted with salmonella at a processing plant in Georgia. That plant received high marks from an inspector working for a bakery industry trade association. The inspector wasn’t aware that peanut butter could be contaminated by salmonella. These private inspectors, known as third-party auditors, operate with no government oversight or rules. Standards for the auditors are established by trade organizations financed by supermarket chains and food producers. Auditors are often paid by the companies whose plants they inspect and can be told what to look for, when and where. Board members of the companies that provide the audits sometimes also work for food producers. The potential for conflicts is obvious. Most troubling is that audit reports by private inspectors are secret, denying the public the right to know how food is handled. Actually, even more troubling is that a new law to improve U.S. food safety leaves the system of unregulated industry- sponsored auditors largely intact. Yes, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 does require inspectors of foreign food processors to be FDA certified. And yes, their audit reports must be turned over to the agency. But there’s a catch: Domestic auditors were exempted from these requirements after food manufacturers argued that certification programs would siphon off resources better used in other FDA efforts. In essence, the industry would keep an oversight network it pays for and controls. So what can be done? The FDA estimates that it would need $3 billion a year to perform the necessary inspections of domestic and imported food. This seems a relatively small sum compared with the $75 billion to $150 billion that food-borne illnesses cost Americans each year for medical treatment and time lost from work. The calculus of costs and benefits should persuade Congress to increase funding for FDA inspections, even if not by as much as the agency says it needs. Only the FDA has the power to quickly obtain the court injunction to shut down a processor when hazardous conditions are found. What’s more, because the FDA doesn’t provide advance notice of inspections, the element of surprise helps keep food producers honest. Audit Guidelines The agency would also do well to draft accreditation standards and a code of industry best practices. This would establish guidelines for auditor independence, barring employees of food producers from serving as audit company directors. Food producers should be prohibited from selecting auditors, who could be assigned from a blind pool instead. The FDA also needs to establish a formal certification program for auditors and inspectors, and have the power to suspend or bar those who fall down on the job. Finally, all inspection reports should be filed with the FDA and made public. Americans have a right to know not only where their food came from -- but also who looked it over to make sure it won’t make them sick. Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View. Subscribe to receive a daily e-mail highlighting new View editorials, columns and op-ed articles. Today’s highlights: Stephen L. Carter on which facts last the longest; William Pesek on economist Raghuram Rajan’s return to India; Jonathan Weil on funny numbers companies use to burnish their earnings; Richard Vedder on what colleges aren’t telling prospective students. To contact the Bloomberg View editorial board: [email protected]

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08 октября 2012, 08:03

VIDEO: Solar power for India's electric cars

With an already overloaded power grid, Indians are turning to solar power to charge a growing number of electric cars.

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17 сентября 2012, 06:31

India To Spend $18 Billion On Preventing Another Massive Blackout

GA_googleFillSlot("EW_News_300x250"); The Power Grid Corp. of India, the largest state-owned electric utilities company in the country, is set to spend more than 1 trillion rupees ($18 billion) to upgrade its electricity networks, reported Bloomberg News on Monday, in order to avoid a repeat of the July 30-31 blackouts, which left more half of the nation’s 1.2 billion population without power. The Power Grid Corp. of India, the largest state-owned electric utilities company in the country, is set to spend more than 1 trillion rupees ($18 billion) to upgrade its electricity networks, reported Bloomberg News on Monday, in order to avoid a repeat of the July 30-31 blackouts, which left more half of the nation’s 1.2 billion population without power. read more

29 августа 2012, 21:40

Guest Post: Doug Casey Uncovers The Real Price Of Peak Oil

Submitted by Doug Casey of Casey Research, Doug Casey Uncovers the Real Price of Peak Oil Doug Casey, chairman of Casey Research and expert on crisis investing, is on the search for real wealth – not investments in companies that push around paper. In this exclusive interview with The Energy Report, Casey shares his pragmatic take on what's next for oil, gas, and nuclear power.   The Energy Report: There will be a Casey Research Summit on Navigating the Politicized Economy in Carlsbad, California, in September. At the last conference, Porter Stansberry caused some excitement with his argument that oil could go to $40/barrel (bbl). What's your view? Doug Casey: We like to have a range of defensible views represented at our conferences. But personally, I don't think it's realistic to suggest oil prices will drop as low as $40/bbl. I am of the opinion that the Hubbert peak-oil theory is correct. In the 1950s, M. King Hubbert projected that US oil production would start declining in the 1970s, and he was accurate. Then he projected that in the mid-2000s, the world's production of light, sweet crude would start declining. He was quite correct about that, too. There will always be plenty of oil at some given price, but to produce oil – even conventional, shallow, light sweet crude – now costs close to $40/bbl in many places. It's extremely expensive to produce oil through unconventional techniques like horizontal drilling and fracking. Producing oil from tar sands is very expensive and problematical. Drilling 15,000 feet under the ocean is very expensive and has a lot of risk. Drilling in politically unstable jurisdictions with sparse infrastructure is neither cheap nor fun. We're talking about production costs of at least $80/bbl in many cases. I don't think oil is going down much from here. Let's not, in addition, forget that it's the most political commodity in the world, and that most of it still comes from the Middle East, where tensions will remain high. I'm neutral to bullish on oil. I'm not bearish at all. TER: How will US natural gas impact oil prices? DC: The thing with natural gas is that it's almost an entirely local market. Oil is very transportable, very fungible – it's a world market. Oil prices are relatively consistent – say within 20-30% worldwide. But the price of gas differs by hundreds of percent around the globe because it's not very transportable. It doesn't seem that's going to change in the near future. The price of gas is going to stay low in the US for some time because of new technologies, namely horizontal drilling and fracking, which allow the exploitation of vast new deposits. These deposits can produce large amounts of hydrocarbons, albeit at relatively high cost. As soon as prices start to rise, however, wells that have been shut because of low prices will start producing again – and that will keep a lid on gas prices for some time to come. TER: Do you see potential for the US to become a natural-gas exporter at some point in the future? DC: The problem with gas is that, unlike oil, it's hard to move and inconvenient to export. There are basically two ways that you can move gas. One is via pipelines. That doesn't work very well across oceans. The second is by liquefying it and putting it in liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers and then transporting it to some place where it is re-gasified again, but that is expensive and it's actually quite dangerous because the LNG tankers are almost like floating bombs. I'm not convinced that gas is ever going to become a truly international commodity – at least not until it's much more expensive. The idea of the US becoming a huge gas exporter is a politically driven fantasy. The government throws ideas out if it makes them look good. We bat them back when we weigh up the realities, then it's up to the reader to decide. It's why I think our summits and the world-shaping topics we discuss are so important. TER: Can we assume that you're not as bullish on gas as you are on oil? DC: Yes. I'm much more bullish on oil. Oil is a much more concentrated energy than gas. Oil is needed for cars. It's needed for airplanes. It's needed for everything. Gas is mostly used for utilities and heating. Oil is both a much denser energy and a much more important form of energy. TER: Speaking of concentrated types of energies, you have called nuclear "the safest, cheapest, and cleanest form of mass power generation," yet we still haven't seen the uranium price return. What's your view on the future of uranium? DC: I have to be bullish simply because of reality. It really is the safest, cheapest, and cleanest form of mass power, but unfortunately it's also the object of mass political hysteria. Many misinformed but well-funded nongovernmental organizations simply hate uranium, for purely ideological reasons. Actually, thorium would be an even better form of nuclear power than uranium. We've been using uranium primarily because you can't make nuclear bombs out of thorium, and the US was building up its nuclear arsenal from World War II on. This is how uranium came to be used for nuclear power plants instead of thorium, but that's a whole different discussion. Of course, now the disaster at Fukushima is held up as proof that nuclear isn't viable; the Japanese and German governments are panicking and shutting down their nuclear plants as quickly as they can. But doing so is extremely foolish. To start, Fukushima used 50-year-old technology. That plant was – like most plants in the world today – an antique, two generations behind current designs. It was also poorly located. It should never have been put right on the ocean. Other design mistakes were made. Still, even over the next decade, only a few people will die from radiation released, whereas at least 20,000 died from the earthquake and tsunami. But the real question is: if nuclear is not going to be used for mass power generation, where is the power going to come from? Most of the world's power is generated by coal, but coal is extremely dirty and dangerous in every way possible – in the production process, and in the residues that it leaves both on the land and in the air. In an industrial world with seven billion people, the only energy source that makes sense is nuclear power. Sure, you can use wind and solar from time to time and in certain places. But those technologies are extremely expensive, and they absolutely can't solve the world's energy problems. Certainly not when electrical grids start going down, as they did in India last month. That's why India and China will be building scores of nuclear plants in the years to come. TER: Doug, thanks for sharing your insights. I greatly appreciate it. DC: Thanks for having me. I encourage your readers to attend the Navigating the Politicized Economy Summit. If you can't make it, the audio collection is a great way to benefit from the information the conference's 28 expert presenters will be sharing – and if you preorder, you can save $100. It's a great deal.