The uncertain future of cleantech subsidies

September 29 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

While the fate of a US energy tax bill that includes renewable energy credits remained up in the air on Monday morning, the market implications of federal energy production subsidies are now more clear.

Earlier this month the US Energy Information Agency released a report looking at shifts between 1999 through 2007 for federal energy subsidies. The mechanism with the most direct market influence relates to production tax credits (PTCs). Today, the solar industry is hoping that it will benefit the same way that wind and ethanol have in the past.

Global implications of national subsidies
In all major world economies, public sector subsidies play a key role in the evolution of energy production of traditional and alternative energy sources.

And despite the rhetoric of energy independence surrounding renewable sources of energy, the reality is that energy production based on wind, solar and biofuels is globally integrated across the value chain.

The biofuels industry is a global industry built upon a complex web of financiers, seed companies, producers, refiners, distributors, and equipment manufacturers. Biofuels are also heavily subsidized in the US and Europe.

Solar and wind are no exception. The wind turbine that produces ‘domestic energy’ might have been designed or manufactured abroad. And the future growth of a California solar company is likely dependent on buying ‘foreign’ raw materials or selling units outside the United States. So a dramatic shift in subsidies inside the US, Europe and China will have ripple affect across the world.

Subsidy lessons from wind and ethanol
Subsidies use public resource to assist producers, sellers or buyers in energy specific areas. According to the EIA, the Federal Government spent an estimated $16.6 billion in energy-specific subsidies in 2007- more than than double than 1999 levels.

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Toshiba Unveils 16GB MicroSDHC, Bright Future for Computer-phone Interactions

November 26 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot


Toshiba recently announced that they would start producing a 16-Gigabyte MicroSDHC in January of next year.  "Toshiba Corp. (Toshiba), a leading innovator in memory card technologies and solutions, and Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. (TAEC), its subsidiary in the Americas, today reinforced their memory card line-up with the launch of a 16GB microSDHC card offering the largest capacity available in the market."  Although the smaller chip only transfers at 6Mps instead of the faster 20Mps, the fact that 16 Gigabytes can be crammed into such a small area could mean huge changes in the computer/smartphone environment.

The bridge between phone and computer has been constantly blurring with the increase of mobile internet use among smartphone users.  The ability to link the phone and the computer so far has been relegated to files and applications both share.  The increased space on the phone could be used for more files, but it could also be used as a back-up for your computer.

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The Singularity Movie (Web Release)

October 17 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 3 Hot

Move over Ray Kurzweil, here’s the Scenario Land version of the upcoming Singularity Movie. And guess what – the Singularity just happened!

Note: Make sure the movie loads fully before watching. I am trying to upload it to YouTube, but the feature is still buggy as Xtra Normal is in beta.

Using the new Xtra Normal platform, the above video took just 30 minutes to produce. This forward-step in super-user-friendly machinima brings us just a little closer to a scenario that I like to call The Toon Point, the time when virtual-world-generated video equals the average quality of a Saturday morning cartoon created in 2005. (Why 2005? Because that’s roughly when I began thinking about the notion of a Toon Point.)

Ever since my days in the West Hollywood Metaverse House, as my buddy and former roommate Jerry Paffendorf likes to call it, I’ve been a fan of virtual worlds and looking forward to The Toon Point. Due to their ability to incorporate and network other communication technologies, the potential of virtual worlds as an Interactive Communication Technology is simply astounding, and is reflected in their rapid diffusion patterns.

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