By John Lusty – Digitalization is transforming the global Energy & Utilities (E&U) industry, and the most exciting part is that it’s happening so differently in each industry sector depending on their unique plans and priorities. That’s because each organization has a slightly different digital legacy and is executing a different business model that is making them a leader in their respective sectors of the market. It’s also because E&U businesses are inherently non-uniform due to mergers and acquisitions, project mindsets, boom and bust business cycles, breakthroughs in technology, and sudden societal or geopolitical shifts that ripple through the global energy economy at the speed of light.
This blog is the first in a new series from Siemens Digital Industries Software, where we’ll discuss trends in digitalization that relate to the Energy & Utilities industry. At Siemens, we have the privilege of working closely with industry leaders and people from an extensive range of manufacturing sectors with different degrees of digital maturity. That lets us see what’s working great as well as some things that didn’t go quite as planned.
We’re also the software business unit within Siemens AG, a mega-enterprise of close to 400,000 colleagues that acts as a massive internal customer for our solutions. People usually look at us a little differently, knowing that as a global engineering and manufacturing organization that relies extensively on our software solutions, we truly have “skin in the game” as our supplier.
Much work has been done across the E&U industry to assemble and apply the “digital twin” of assets, projects and facilities to be more efficient, profitable, and operationally excellent. In this blog, we’ll review examples of excellence in these areas and speak with some of the people who made them happen. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, Digital transformation, Energy, Siemens, Skills
The tax that could save the world
Most economists agree on how to tackle climate change. Can politicians make it happen?
By Michael Maiello & Natasha Gural – It was, perhaps, the closest that the economics profession has ever come to a consensus. In January, 43 of the world’s most eminent economists signed a statement published in the Wall Street Journal calling for a US carbon tax. The list included 27 Nobel laureates, four former chairs of the Federal Reserve, and nearly every former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers since the 1970s, both Republican and Democratic.
“By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a low-carbon future,” the economists noted. All revenue from the tax should be paid in equal lump-sum rebates directly to US citizens, they added.
Not all economists agree that the tax should be revenue neutral in this way, but the profession has been coalescing in recent years around the idea of a carbon tax. Most prefer such a tax to the most prominent alternative policy for tackling carbon emissions, cap and trade, according to a recent poll of expert economists.
But a carbon tax seems to be a political nonstarter in the United States. The bipartisan call for action from economists over the years has been echoed by a failure to act by presidents from both parties. President Donald Trump denies the need to confront man-made climate change. But although Barack Obama, his predecessor, in 2015 called a carbon tax “the most elegant way” to fight global warming, he didn’t push strongly for one to be introduced. “One of my very, very few disappointments in Obama when he was president is that he did not come out in favor of carbon tax,” Yale’s William D. Nordhaus told the New York Times last October, days after winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on economic modeling and climate change.
US states have shown that they, too, can reject a carbon tax. more>
Posted in Business, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Chicago Booth, Climate change, Skills, Taxes
Tiny Magnetic Particles Enable New Material to Bend, Twist, and Grab
By Josh Brown – A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and The Ohio State University has developed a soft polymer material, called magnetic shape memory polymer, that uses magnetic fields to transform into a variety of shapes. The material could enable a range of new applications from antennas that change frequencies on the fly to gripper arms for delicate or heavy objects.
The material is a mixture of three different ingredients, all with unique characteristics: two types of magnetic particles, one for inductive heat and one with strong magnetic attraction, and shape-memory polymers to help lock various shape changes into place.
“This is the first material that combines the strengths of all of these individual components into a single system capable of rapid and reprogrammable shape changes that are lockable and reversible,” said Jerry Qi, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. more>
- Armored With Plastic ‘Hair’ and Silica Shell, New Perovskite Nanocrystals Show Enhanced Durability, Josh Brown
- El Nino Swings More Violently in the Industrial Age, Hard Evidence Says, Ben Brumfield
- Exoplanet Axis Study Boosts Hopes of Complex Life, Just Not Next Door, Ben Brumfield
- Observing a “Cosmic Symphony” Using Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Josh Brown
- Metagenomics Unlocks Unknowns of Diarrheal Disease Cases in Children, John Toon
- Informatics Accelerates Design of Hybrid Membrane Materials for Chemical Separations, Josh Brown
- Atlanta Regional Commission Calls Kendeda Building ‘Groundbreaking Example of Sustainability Leadership’, Joshua Stewart
- Novel Solar Cells Arrive at International Space Station for Testing, John Toon
- National Labs, Georgia Tech, Collaborate on AI Research, John Toon
- Energy Regulation Rollbacks Threaten Progress Against Harmful Ozone, Ben Brumfield
- U.S. Carbon and Pollution Emissions Policies Are ‘Up in the Air’, Ben Brumfield
- Reframing Antarctica’s Meltwater Pond Dangers to Ice Shelves and Sea Level, Ben Brumfield
- 3D-Printed Device Finds ‘Needle in a Haystack’ Cancer Cells by Removing the Hay, John Toon
- Research On Large Storm Waves Could Help Lessen Their Impact On Coasts, Josh Brown
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, Healthcare, History, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, Earth, Georgia Tech, Skills, Technology
No institution or individual can stand on the sidelines in the fight against climate change
By Kristalina Georgieva – When I think of the incredible challenges we must confront in the face of a changing climate, my mind focuses on young people. Eventually, they will be the ones either to enjoy the fruits or bear the burdens resulting from actions taken today.
Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various mitigation measures—phasing out fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency, adopting renewable energy sources, improving land use and agricultural practices—continue to move forward, but the pace is too slow. We have to scale up and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. At the same time, we must recognize that climate change is already happening and affecting the lives of millions of people. There are more frequent and more severe weather-related events—more droughts, more floods, more heat waves, more storms.
Ready or not, we are entering an age of adaptation. And we need to be smart about it. Adaptation is not a defeat, but rather a defense against what is already happening. The right investments will deliver a “triple dividend” by averting future losses, spurring economic gains through innovation, and delivering social and environmental benefits to everyone, but particularly to those currently affected and most at risk. Updated building codes can ensure infrastructure and buildings are better able to withstand extreme events. Making agriculture more climate resilient means investing more money in research and development, which in turn opens the door to innovation, growth, and healthier communities.
The IMF is stepping up its efforts to deal with climate risk. Our mission is to help our members build stronger economies and improve people’s lives through sound monetary, fiscal, and structural policies. more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, How to, Nature, Net, Technology
Tagged Adaptive, Business improvement, Climate change, Earth, Ecology, Super regions
A strategy to protect whales can limit greenhouse gases and global warming
By Ralph Chami, Thomas Cosimano, Connel Fullenkamp, and Sena Oztosun – When it comes to saving the planet, one whale is worth thousands of trees.
Scientific research now indicates more clearly than ever that our carbon footprint—the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming through the so-called greenhouse effect—now threatens our ecosystems and our way of life. But efforts to mitigate climate change face two significant challenges. The first is to find effective ways to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere or its impact on average global temperature. The second is to raise sufficient funds to put these technologies into practice.
Many proposed solutions to global warming, such as capturing carbon directly from the air and burying it deep in the earth, are complex, untested, and expensive. What if there were a low-tech solution to this problem that not only is effective and economical, but also has a successful funding model?
An example of such an opportunity comes from a surprisingly simple and essentially “no-tech” strategy to capture more carbon from the atmosphere: increase global whale populations. Marine biologists have recently discovered that whales—especially the great whales—play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere (Roman and others 2014).
The carbon capture potential of whales is truly startling. Whales accumulate carbon in their bodies during their long lives. When they die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean; each great whale sequesters 33 tons of CO2 on average, taking that carbon out of the atmosphere for centuries. A tree, meanwhile, absorbs only up to 48 pounds of CO2 a year.
Protecting whales could add significantly to carbon capture because the current population of the largest great whales is only a small fraction of what it once was. Sadly, after decades of industrialized whaling, biologists estimate that overall whale populations are now to less than one fourth what they once were. Some species, like the blue whales, have been reduced to only 3 percent of their previous abundance. Thus, the benefits from whales’ ecosystem services to us and to our survival are much less than they could be.
But this is only the beginning of the story. more>
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, How to, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Carbon capture and storage, Climate change, Earth, Ecology, Whales