Saturday, May 24, 2008

Solar Power comes to Snowy Climes

  • Ever-higher fossil fuel prices stimulates investment and research in renewable energy innovation. An Ontario firm announces demonstration project for its industrial/commercial solar concentrator. Menova Energy's roof-top installation will help provide electrical power, heat, cooling and optical cable interior lighting to a new Wall-Mart store in Markham.
    Suddenly the future looks a lot less cold and gloomy; at least Ontarioians need not freeze in the daylight.
    Before we cheer, however, it looks like small thinking trumps again -even as we face brownouts and the Province schedules shut-down of coal-fired generating plants. Ontario regulators cast chill over green energy initiatives with 10 megawatt cap. Read Toronto Star article.
  • Meanwhile, IBM research makes headway with increasing electric output of concentrator photovoltatic cells while reducing their cost.
  • Intel funds solar startup and HP licences its clear transistor for use in solar panels.
  • Patent holder assigns rights to a team of MIT students who deliver a prototype solar/steam generator that is cheap and scaleable.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hydrokinetic Turbines for S-W Ontario?

Wherever water flows there is kinetic energy. Hydrokinetic turbines placed in fast-flowing river channels could provide new clean power sources for many Ontario communities. Two American firms are already developing prototypes to harness international currents on the Niagara River. Read breaking story in BuffaloNews.What's next? Perhaps submerged turbines in the Detroit and St Clair rivers.

Plutonic Power Corp. is on the forefront of "run-of-river" hydro projects in B.C.

Scan other hydro innovations in Economist Magazine. With the turbine/generator unit developed by Open Hydro (an Irish firm), the Saugeen River from the Grey County highlands to the Lake Huron shore could well become a major electricity producer. Even London Ontario might be able to eke out a couple of megawatts through redesign of spillways at Fanshaw and Springbank dams.

Read London writer/producer, Mary Ann Colihan's investigative piece on Verdant Power's installation at Cornwall on the St Lawrence.

Portual and the Orkney Islands are building Atlantic "wave farms."

The United States is about to take a fresh look at hydro power. as part of economic and infrastructure stimulus.

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's the Paradigm, Stupid

Bill Clinton got elected on the four words, "It's the economy, stupid."

Mr. Brooks, a New York Times Op-ed writer now suggests, "It's the Cognitive Paradigm, Hillary." Brooks points out that rather than blame economic upheaval on free-trade and out-sourcing, Americans should accept that we are on the cusp of the Cognitive Age and get on with learning new cognitive skills.

Meanwhile, Wired Magazine highlights a story on the creator of a software application that may just provide part of the solution to acquiring such cognitive skills. Unfortunately, the journalist's "story" gets in the way of the reader's prime need -access to usable information. Apparently Supermemo can help disciplined students develop skills in absorbing, recalling and combining information. It assists with the building of an enduring second-language vocabulary, as well as improves retrieval of previously absorbed info in fast-evolving technical fields. Forgetting is easy, but recalling words, definitions and formulas takes solitary effort in interval practicing.

A more dynamic skill for absorbing concepts and tackling complex problems is "mind-mapping." To wrap your mind around this thinking tool, read article in New York Times and a Wikipedia entry.