TESLA AND THE ENERGY MARKET

I still consider it somewhat ironic that this is the case considering the real Tesla’s personal work, motives, and desires regarding energy distribution. Still, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Will Tesla’s Battery for Homes Change the Energy Market?

Tesla did not reveal the price of its larger batteries for businesses and utilities, but it will sell residential models for $3,000—$3,500

Credit: Tesla

More on this Topic

Tesla Motors, the electric-car maker based in Palo Alto, California, has announced that it will sell versions of its battery packs directly to consumers to help to power their homes, as well as to businesses that run larger facilities, and utility companies.

At a press conference in Los Angeles on April 30, the company’s charismatic founder Elon Musk said that the firm’s lithium-ion batteries would enable economies to move to low-carbon energy sources. Solar energy sources are erratic—but by storing their energy and then releasing it when required, batteries could solve that problem, he said.

Many other companies also sell stationary battery storage for buildings and for power grids—but analysts say that the technology is still too expensive for widespread use. Here, Nature explores whether Tesla’s announcement might change the game.

Has Tesla just invented a new battery technology?
No. The company’s packs contain standard lithium-ion batteries based on tried-and-tested technology, which are similar to those that many other firms have on the market.

Although companies and academic labs are pouring billions of dollars into research and development to significantly increase the amount of energy that batteries can store and to lower their cost, it could take years before significant breakthroughs reach the market (see ‘The rechargeable revolution: A better battery’).

Has Tesla managed to cut the cost of battery storage?
Possibly—but it’s unclear. Cosmin Laslau, an analyst for Lux Research, a consulting company in Boston, Massachusetts, says that he thinks Tesla’s batteries may be a bit cheaper than their competitors, although not by a lot.

Tesla did not reveal the price of its larger batteries for businesses and utilities, but it will sell residential models for US$3,000—3,500, or a cost of about $350 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy stored. But that price tag does not include electronics that are required for connecting a battery to a home system, nor installation costs. Together, these costs could more than double the final price for residential consumers.

The internal production cost of lithium-ion battery cells (the cylindrical elements that store energy inside a battery, and which Tesla buys from Japanese electronics giant Panasonic) is generally thought to be around $200 per kWh, according to Mohamed Alamgir, director of research at LG Chem Power in Troy, Michigan, a subsidiary of the South Korean chemistry giant LG Chem. Incorporating those cells into a battery pack typically doubles costs, so that a battery the size of Tesla’s could cost about $4,000 to produce. Tesla could be selling these products at a loss for the time being, says Laslau, but could turn that loss into a profit once it scales up production at the $5-billion battery ‘gigafactory’ it is building in Nevada.

Does a home need a battery?
Most homes in the Western world probably do not. In places that have a good connection to the electricity grid, and where grid power is reliable, households do not need batteries for backup. And even those homes that have solar panels on the roof and extra energy to spare can use the grid itself as their battery: in many places, such as Germany and several US states, homeowners can sell their excess power during the day to the local electricity utility, and buy it back at night.

But the world’s electricity utilities and power grids themselves need more inexpensive energy storage. Countries that have been aggressively installing solar panels and wind turbines but that have not invested enough in energy storage have had trouble integrating the extra capacity into their grids. Germany, for example, has provided lavish subsidies for homeowners who installed solar panels, but when residents installed more photovoltaics than expected, electricity utilities had to spend more to keep the grid running smoothly, says Haresh Kamath, an energy-storage expert at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto. “The effects of unplanned deployment can be dangerous in terms of grid reliability,” he says.

Could today’s lithium-ion batteries meet utility firms’ needs?
When utilities need to manage loads on the grid, it is still cheaper for them to fire up gas turbines. The US Department of Energy estimates that for energy storage to be competitive, it must not cost much more than $150 per kWh. Assuming a cost of $700 per kWh, Tesla’s systems are still much more expensive than that. Right now, the cheapest way to store energy is to pump it uphill into a hydropower reservoir—where one is available. The next-best storage solution is to compress air in large underground reservoirs.

But even if they cannot economically store hours’ worth of a country’s energy needs, batteries can help to make the grid more reliable. And the US energy department’s target does not take into account the social costs of carbon emissions, says Jeff Dahn, a battery researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. “If there was an appropriate price associated with the generation of carbon, we’d all be using solar panels and paying whatever it costs to store electricity,” he says.

This article is reproduced with permission and was first published on May 1, 2015.

THE GOAL

The goal should not be to degrade, lessen, or sabotage the ranks of the 1%. Much less to abolish the ranks of the 1%.

Rather the goal should be to create so many wealthy persons that they become the vast majority of people on the face of the Earth. But to do this the vast majority of people on the face of the Earth must become truly ambitious, industrious and productive. They must also become real risk-takers.

It is for immediately obvious reasons (to anyone who bothers to observe) that the vast majority of one-percenters are consistently ambitious, industrious, and productive. And habitual risk takers.

They are not dependent-minded people with a constant desire for indulgence and security. They are rather the makers of manners. And the shapers of self-effort and worth.

If you would be in the 1% you must become the 1%.

It is not indecipherable magic, it is good and well-practiced habit.

BLIND MAN’S INTUITION

For some reason I could not reblog this post, so instead I am linking to it directly here, with my comments.

My Comments:

This is actually quite a good idea.

Merit and capability are what you actually want to promote in any efficient company, corporation, or organization.

It would be very difficult to maintain “true and objective personnel blindness” all the way through the recruitment process, as the farther along the hiring process proceeds the more necessity for the applicant and the employer to interact personally.

 

But at least at the initial stages it would be an excellent early screening technique.

I am not of the opinion however that what is actually needed is less white guys, but simply more of everyone else who is actually qualified (for whatever is actually needed).

Or put another way what you actually need in any well-functioning organization is the very best qualified candidate, the one best suited to the position and the one who is qualified by capability and who will continue to perform in the future on merit. That is where, and at whom, you need to center your real rate of fire.

Otherwise, that observation aside, I think this idea has real merit of its own and should be experimented with and tested further for usefulness.

 

Dylan’s Desk: How to improve diversity without compromising on excellence

Dylan’s Desk: How to improve diversity without compromising on excellence

Above: This is literally the only image representing a “blind audition” I could find on Flickr.

Image Credit: thomas.leuther
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Silicon Valley often prides itself on being a meritocracy, where people advance solely because of their talent.

Yet it has an obvious diversity problem. Big companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook regularly release diversity statistics that show clearly that women, blacks, and Hispanics are underrepresented. Venture capital firms are populated largely by white and Asian men, and the companies that get funding from VCs are disproportionately similar.

And, yes, tech journalism has a similar skew: Too many of us are white guys.

It might be that there’s a smaller pool of talented engineers, entrepreneurs, and tech journalists among women and minorities. That’s why the argument is often framed in terms of meritocracy vs. diversity or excellence vs. affirmative action.

But it’s also quite possible that there’s something wrong with the recruiting process and that the lack of diversity is actually getting in the way of hiring the best people.

Orchestrating excellence

This is where a lesson from classical music might come in handy.

Orchestras in the US used to be 95 percent to 100 percent male and zero to 5 percent female.

But after instituting blind auditions, with the applicants performing their music behind a screen so they can only be heard, not seen, that ratio changed dramatically.

According to one study, the number of women in top orchestras rose from less than 5% to 25% after those orchestras implemented blind auditions starting in the 1970s and 1980s. One quarter to one half of that change, the study found, is attributable to the blind auditions, which force auditors to focus on what they’re actually hearing, not what they see.

It’s not just music, either: Double-blind reviews of scientific papers have increased the number of female authors in professional publications, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year.

Recently, people have started suggesting that Silicon Valley needs to make a similar change. Startup guru Eric Ries made a similar experiment by removing names, gender, and ethnicity from résumés.

And Google has made its own efforts to tackle unconscious bias. Even well-meaning people sometimes skew their judgements unconsciously, because of shortcuts our brains have internalized over a long period of time.

The fact that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella can so easily put his foot in his mouth with an ill-considered offhand comment shows that unconscious bias is real. It’s not that he meant to say anything patronizing or belittling to women; he probably didn’t even think about it.

Despite the best efforts of many well-meaning people in the tech industry (and beyond), women still earn less, get their startups funded less, and find their way into the ranks of VC firms less than men do. And that’s not even considering other aspects of the tech diversity problem: race, sexual orientation, religion, or political leanings.

People just naturally tend to gravitate towards people they are comfortable with, and that creates a self-reinforcing circle of sameness — unless we take deliberate steps to break out of it.

 

THE SCIENCE, AND THE ART, OF TECHNOLOGICAL AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

A friend posted this article earlier today on his Facebook page and I have enough personal interest in the subject and the idea occurs often enough in my own inventions, business projects, and writings that I thought I would comment here on the Launch Port.

The iron could have been inserted later, but my general supposition is that Iron, and possibly even Steel development occurred long before what is historically accounted, in certain isolated areas or as a result of individual experiments by certain particularly gifted smiths.

The “Ages” we attribute to history are really just generalizations on wide-spread (what we would call today industrial and/or historical) development. History implies within the very term that there must be an historical record of a thing, and that this record must be available for recognition and study. Without an historical record of some kind there is no history, but whether any particular thing actually exited or not sans an historical record, that is an entirely separate matter.

But smithing used to be art as much as science and some genius (or geniuses) at any particular period of history (or prehistory or non-history) could have easily leapt well ahead of his contemporaries and either the local ruler(s) suppressed wide-spread dissemination of such techniques or the smith himself (for personal and economic reasons) simply kept the secrets to himself and only manufactured small numbers of such artefacts or weapons. Then again local logistical matters and proper supplying may have prevented iron making en masse (as happened with the Hittites and Egyptians), or it could have been a one-off experiment or even an accident that smith was never able to properly reproduce. My father used to be a tool and dye maker and I saw him conduct any number of one-off experiments which he did not properly document or detail and then he later had trouble reproducing.

We moderns, because of our peculiar “industrial techniques” (that is we concentrate as much upon reproducible manufacturing techniques as we do experimental manufacturing methods) think of manufacturing as purely a science, but I suspect most of our ancestors tended to look upon smithing as primarily an art or at the very least an individualized enterprise of high personal skill and craft. We are scientists who like to mimic art in our productions, they were likely artists who were also proto-scientists, but only proto-scientists. Strict record keeping and precise reproduction was probably not a big concern in their worldview. Actually individualization was probably a far bigger concern for them and for their rulers.

Then again you have those recent historical cases of things like the +Ulfberh+t swords where long materiel trade lines combined with unique individualized skill and craft operations to produce weapons and artefacts well ahead of the rest of the world. That is to say there was some localized sub-masse production but for logistical, military, and economic reasons not mass production.

(After all someone has to be the best in the world – just look at US weapon systems compared to most of the rest of the world. Some archaeologist in the far-future, if records are lost or compromised, might assume that there was no US Superpower Age until much later than actually really occurred because the rest of the world is decades if not centuries behind us. The Truth is that is some respects we’re just decades or centuries ahead of everyone else in our weapon systems development, they are not necessarily decades or centuries behind us.)

I suspect the real Truth is that it is a normal thing throughout history and pre-history for some geniuses or particularly cunning individuals to leap well ahead of the curve where the rest of the world is concerned, and when you have ages or eons where it is uncommon to keep records or to store such records properly or even near the artefacts these geniuses create then it is easy to assume that nothing occurs until it becomes obviously apparent to everyone via mass production, or through common usage. But small scale or individualized examples of the thing might have very well existed centuries before such things become common. And because of their small number of productions it is easy to see such examples misplaced, looted, or destroyed and therefore not available for historical discovery or examination.

Truth is someone right now is creating something decades if not centuries ahead of everyone else but it won’t become recognized and it won’t be the “Age of X…” until that thing is widely recognized or able to be mass produced for whatever reasons or reasons.

http://www.humanistictexts.org/sumer.htm#4%20Praise%20of%20Urukagina

 

Introduction

Our oldest written records come from the civilization of Sumer, which arose in around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq. The chief cities such as Uruk, Nippur, Ur, and Lagash play a prominent role in the history of the region, being built and destroyed many times over as wars developed between the city states and between them and the surrounding tribes. The Uruk period, 3,750-3150 BCE, saw the emergence of warrior kings, magnificent temples, intensive agriculture by means of irrigation, and the first pictographic writing in 3300 BCE. The early kings gained mythical status,  most notably in the case of Lugualbanda and Gilgamesh, whose myths have survived

Pictographic writing evolved into the cueiform script, made with a reed pressed into soft clay. As clay lasts far longer than vegetable materials, Sumerian cuneiform documents dating as far back as 3100 BCE have been found. A flourishing cuneiform literature in the Sumerian language developed, reaching its peak in the centuries around 2000 BCE. The Sumerian language is not part of the Indo-European group and was replaced in the second millenium by Semitic languages as tribes from the Western deserts and elsewhere moved into the fertile crescent and conquered the area, giving rise to the civilizations of Babylon and Assyria. 

Some insight into Sumerian values can be gained from praise poems written for kings. While the kings may not always live up to this praise they show the type of achievments that they wished to be remembered by. The ones used here to provide characteristic extracts praise Urukagina (Uruinimagina, c 2350) and Gudea (2141-2122), who ruled from Lagash, and Ur-Nammu (2112-2095) and Shulgi (Culgi, 2094-2047), who ruled from Ur. Urukagina appears as a social reformer, getting rid of gross abuses of power that had taken hold in Lagash. He ruled for only eight years, after which the abuses must have returned, because Gudea, a few centuries later, instituted similar reforms. Gudea was also an energetic builder of temples, the most elaborate being at Girsu. The surviving text describing its construction provides insight into the richness of his city state and the dispersed regions from which Sumer acquired resources. As he is not recorded as a constant warrior, many of these materials were probably acquired in trading…

 

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