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Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Much of what we talk about is dead-centered on building a more resilient world.  Here's a part of that as the business world indexes themselves on this effort.

How Does Your Business Resilience Rank?

In whatever countries in the world you site your business operations or rely on key suppliers, the business resilience of these countries matters. The FM Global Resilience Index is the first data-driven tool and repository that ranks the resilience of 130 countries and territories according to their enterprise resilience to disruptive events. It is designed to help executives evaluate the countries they rely upon so they can make more informed decisions when it comes to their own business and supply chain resilience.
Experience the intuitive interface. Explore the resilience factors and drivers. Download the easy-to-sort data tables.
 Get Started 

Features and Benefits

New Drivers
Three new drivers of enterprise resilience (urbanization rate, supply chain visibility, and inherent cyber risk) have been added to nine others to provide you an even more informed picture of each country.
Exporting Data
Ability to download data allows further analysis and inclusion in your reports and presentations.
In-depth Analytics
In addition to five-year country trends, each country can be explored deeper than ever before so you can glean more powerful insights.
Improved Interface
An easy-to-use graphical and numerical interface allows you to do easier and quicker comparisons of countries based on their enterprise resilience.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tesla’s Burning Through $4 Billion a Year/Bloomberg

Have you thought about what it takes to get a new technology or company to market, and to garner enough of that market to survive?  Even though Tesla is a it unique in its scope and size, it is reflective of the massive commitment it takes to go from start-up to player.

Tesla, though, even in its infancy, has changed the auto industry.  Now dipping their toe into trucks, their product line up is quickly expanding.  Of course they have become a significant player on the battery side.

We hope, of course, they hit a home run and return profits back to their investors.

  • By this calculation, Tesla would exhaust cash on Aug. 6
  • Company says it has ample money to meet its production targets
Elon Musk said last week that Tesla Inc. is designing a new sports car that could go from zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. Not bad, but here’s a speed number that investors might want to focus on instead: 
Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6. (At 2:17 a.m. New York time, if you really want to be precise.)
To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door. But still, its need for fresh cash came into high relief last week when Musk unveiled his latest plan to raise funds. He’s asking customers to pay him upfront to order vehicles that may not be delivered for years.
The souped-up Roadster will cost buyers a $250,000 down payment even though it’s not coming for more than two years. That might generate $250 million; orders for the “founders” Roadster are capped at 1,000. And companies can pre-order electric Semi trucks for $5,000. They don’t go into production until 2019.
But all this is a pittance compared with Tesla’s financial needs. It’s blowing through more than $1 billion a quarter thanks to massive investment in making the Model 3, a $35,000 car that’s looking less likely to generate a return anytime soon.
“Whether they can last another 10 months or a year, he needs money, and quickly,” said Kevin Tynan, senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, who estimates Tesla will be required to raise at least $2 billion in fresh capital by mid-2018.

Ample Money

Tesla has said it has ample money to meet its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of March. After that date, the company expects to “generate significant cash flows from operating activities,” Tesla said in a Nov. 1 letter to shareholders. Tesla’s capital expenditures should also decline as the company pays off its expenses related to the Model 3, CFO Deepak Ahuja said on a conference call the same day.
Dave Arnold, a spokesman for Palo Alto-based Tesla, declined to elaborate.
Tesla’s options are limited.
It’s already drawing down on more of its revolving credit facilities than ever before. And while the bond market is a possible route, it may not be especially welcoming right now. Investors who bought $1.8 billion of debt three months ago remain under water even after the notes recovered a bit from a low of 93.88 cents on the dollar early this month.
That may leave selling equity as the most viable option. But that, of course, would dilute existing shareholders, and Musk, at 20 percent, is the biggest. After hitting a record in September, Tesla’s stock has fallen by 20 percent.
“So long as the company is burning cash, it will remain dependent on the patience and enthusiasm of public markets or the deep pockets of a white knight,” said Christian Hoffmann, a money manager at Thornburg Investment Management.
— With assistance by Brandon Kochkodin, Dana Hull, Alec Mikrut, and Taka Endo

Toyota's Environmental Challenge: For tomorrow's show

To go beyond zero environmental impact and achieve a net positive impact, Toyota has set itself six challenges. All these challenges, whether in climate change or resource and water recycling, are beset with difficulties, however we are committed to continuing toward the year 2050 with steady initiatives in order to realize sustainable development together with society.

Part of our discussion tomorrow with their head of sustainability:

To go beyond zero environmental impact and achieve a net positive impact, Toyota has set itself six challenges. All these challenges, whether in climate change or resource and water recycling, are beset with difficulties, however we are committed to continuing toward the year 2050 with steady initiatives in order to realize sustainable development together with society.

New Vehicle Zero CO₂ Emissions Challenge

Life Cycle Zero CO₂ Emissions Challenge

Monday, November 20, 2017

FURLESS Gucci Making A Statement for the Environment/Renewable Now

Good to see another industry adopting better triple-bottom line practices:

Gucci has been a long-time leading luxury brand, but this company has become much more than purely fashion.  In recent years, Gucci has implemented various initiatives that make its practices much more sustainable and wholesome to people, the environment, and animals.  Beginning in its Spring/Summer 2018 collection, Gucci will no longer include fur in any of its designs. Marco Bizzarri, chief executive, and president of the company, told Business of Fashion “Do you think using furs today is still modern? I don’t think it’s still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to do that. It’s a little bit out-dated… Creativity can jump in many different directions instead of using furs.”
Gucci joins other large brands, notably Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, in its fur-free initiative.  Other brands such as Stella McCartney, have vowed from their inception to only use vegetarian or animal-friendly materials in their products.  The number of companies going cruelty/fur-free is only growing, primarily as a response to the public’s indifference and even disgust toward the use of animal skins as fashion statements.
On top of implementing a fur-free future, Gucci has also instilled a dedication to environmentally-friendly behavior in its business.  Gucci clearly states on its website that it as a company believes that climate change is a reality that must be fought against as much as possible. Gucci then details its environmental plan, which includes: Energy saving in all Gucci stores, offices, warehouses and supply chain; Distribution and transportation optimization; Use of paper and packaging sourced from certified sustainably managed forests (FSC); Reduction of waste, paper and water in all offices, warehouses, stores, production sites and supply chain; Increased attention to the use and management of chemicals; Development of innovative environmentally-friendly materials; Sustainable sourcing and traceability of raw materials, in respect of nature, biodiversity, animal welfare and local communities.  Furthermore, Gucci has donated a million euros to Unicef’s Girls Empowerment Initiative and has joined Parks – Liberi e Ugly, an Italian nonprofit that assists companies with implementing strategies for respecting diversity, focusing on gender identity and sexual orientation.  Gucci has made it a priority to have women largely represented in its company, with a majority of the senior management positions being held by females.
With a brand like Gucci on the side of saving the planet and all of its beings, it is no question that the positive influences of caring individuals have made their mark.  It will be no surprise to see more and more luxury brands taking the same types of initiatives and implementations, but we’ll remember who started the trend.  Thanks, Gucci!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Here’s what it’s like to sit in the new Tesla Semi

Great story to introduce the new Tesla heavy duty truck:

Tesla’s truck is a departure from more traditional diesel-powered equivalents in a number of ways, but it might be most starkly different when it comes to the cabin. I got the chance to spend some time in and around the Tesla Semi, and it’s going to offer up a dramatically different experience for drivers once they get the chance to hit the road.
The truck cab itself is obviously very different from the outside, with sleek lines that have more in common with Tesla’s consumer cars than with other transport vehicles. But the sleek lines and minimalist approach to seams and exterior breaks is only part of the story – inside, there’s a whole lot that you wouldn’t expect, too.
This starts with getting into the cab, which you do using a set of stairs that are built into the truck’s side and that extend nearly all the way to the ground. It’s a lot easier than getting in and out of a traditional semi truck cab, for sure. It feels more like getting into an expensive consumer highway coach bus, in fact.
Once inside the cab, I was started to find that even at 6’2″, I could easily stand with clearance left to spare above. There’ plenty of space in general in the cab, all around, even with the secondary jump seat installed (and it can be removed). The center-positioned driver seat takes up the most space of any cabin accoutrement.
That center seat is unusual, since most driver seats in existing vehicles are obviously offset to the left. But it’s also set more forward than on most trucks, since there’s no motor to fight for space with. The dash is also more minimal than most, with two touchscreen displays on either side of the wheel (these are the same units used in the Model 3, by the way).
The touchscreen display navigation information, as well as cabin controls, and multimedia. I was easily giving songs thumbs up and then quickly shifting over to the Autopilot controls on the left console, which would’ve allowed me to do things like engage lane keeping if it was actually on the road and driving.
The central position is designed to give you a bit of a “king of the road” feel, according to Tesla, and it does indeed convey that. It helps that you’re surrounded by a nearly panoramic set of three windows, including the windshield, that provide a much more unobstructed view of the road then you’ll normally get from a truck cab.
There also weren’t any wing mirrors on the Tesla Semi I sat in, which Tesla explained is just a conceptual vision of how it might be able to outfit the truck in future, when laws recognize that you could replace much of the functionality, if not do more, with cameras vs. physical mirrors.
The cab also featured plenty of storage, in the doors, above the rear wall (like airplane overheads) and with cupholders. Tesla says it’s designed to be convenient for the use habits of existing drivers, who tend to bring a lot of stuff on the road.
In the end, the Tesla Semi feels more like a car than any other transport truck I’ve had the chance to get into before. It lacks any shifters and seems a lot simpler to operate, too. It feels a little bit like you’re the captain of a futuristic space ship when you’re plunked in that central driver seat (which is also hydraulic for added comfort). I can definitely see a lot of truck drivers angling for a chance to pilot this once it becomes available.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Modernization Efforts Are Poised to Dramatically Reconfigure the Electric Grid

This is an imperative:Across the globe, we need to upgrade our grids to accept renewables as primary power, large-scale storage capacity, smart grid technology and an easy means of connecting our what will be our own microgrids.

Modernization Efforts Are Poised to Dramatically Reconfigure the Electric Grid

It’s been nearly two years since the release of the GridWise Alliance’s last Grid Modernization Index (GMI-3). The results of the just-released GMI-4, GridWise’s latest tracking of grid modernization efforts across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, demonstrates increased participation in and acceleration of grid modernization efforts across the nation – as clean energy, distributed resources, smart meters, and other technology adoption expands.

For the second consecutive edition, California ranks highest overall, and places first in each of the three GMI categories (state support, customer engagement, and grid operations). The three states ranked behind California remain unchanged from GMI-3. Illinois comes in second overall, repeating its best-ever performance. Texas remains No. 3, nine points behind Illinois, and there is then a seven-point drop to No. 4 Maryland.

Whereas 24 points separate California from Maryland, only nine points separate Maryland from No. 10 Delaware. Oregon moves up two places to the fifth spot, while Arizona climbs three spots to No. 6 and the District of Columbia drops two places to seventh. New York climbs eight spots to No. 8, while Nevada moves up five places to No. 9.

More Americans are taking advantage of the substantial and various benefits installing a residential solar energy system can provide – and not just because the federal solar investment tax credit is winding down. Utilities in states across the nation are ramping up their investments in solar power generation as well, but they continue to lobby for rules and regulations that maintain the balance of market power decidedly in their favor.
A decade ago, the U.S. Congress passed The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which helped launch many of the efforts we see underway today (many of which are tracked in the index). These include the:
  • Increased use of digital information and controls to improve reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric grid
  • Deployment and integration of distributed resources and generation (including renewables)
  • Development and incorporation of demand response, demand-side resources, and energy-efficiency resources
  • Adoption of communications and interoperability standards
One notable theme in GMI-4 is the progress made by the middle states in the rankings: those in the top half of the overall rankings, but outside of the top 10. This group includes seven states that have added at least six points to their overall score (Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, and New Jersey). Additionally, the median overall score in GMI-4 jumped 3 points from the previous edition, reflecting the increased efforts that states are putting into their grid modernization efforts.

What’s mobilizing these efforts? Cost declines are one key driver of the expansion of grid modernization activities. The cost of wind and solar energy, and increasingly energy storage, electric vehicles, and other emerging technologies, have decreased to where they are often the lowest-cost option for both utilities and consumers. Environmental impacts, and related concerns, are also driving consumers and policymakers to seek out these emerging non-traditional options. At the same time, utilities continue to prioritize reliability and cost-effectiveness while finding effective ways to integrate these new technologies.
Similarly, the declining cost of new sensors and communication and IT systems is enabling smarter, more efficient grid operations by leveraging customer usage data, smart devices, and other highly automated systems. These systems are increasingly being deployed where and when it makes sense, resulting in higher utilization of existing assets, greater system efficiency, and lower environmental impact.

Other major drivers impacting grid modernization include resiliency efforts by a growing number of utilities in the face of rising sea levels and powerful storms, wildfires, and other natural disasters; the threat of cybersecurity intrusions that could put electric utilities at significant risk; renewable energy targets and goals for cities, states, and corporations; and the advent of advanced digital technologies, including communications tools for consumer interaction and cloud services for both energy and efficiency provision.

Key takeaways, based on our analysis of GMI-4 survey results, include:
1.   The pace of grid modernization efforts has accelerated, particularly on the policy front. Many states are undertaking grid modernization initiatives or proceedings, including facilitating the adoption of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), pricing schemes and demand response (DR) mechanisms, and enacting other related policies. 
2.   Recent hurricanes and other extreme weather events, as well as human-caused cybersecurity and physical security threats, are focusing attention on grid resilience. While some states are leading the way, GMI-4 shows that a minority of states are actively planning for and incentivizing resiliency and security. These efforts will begin to expand to other states, ensuring that customers are less vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.
3.   Leading states continue to make progress toward comprehensive grid modernization. Each follows its own approach to policy, business and regulatory models. Unique local and regional circumstances compel each state to develop its own approach to grid modernization. However, it is critical that states pioneering new ideas effectively communicate lessons learned to states that can build on their experience.
4.   Many states are just beginning their own grid modernization efforts. As innovative new technologies become more cost-effective, additional states are joining the leaders in actively pursuing grid modernization agendas.
5.   Some of the early movers may be seeing their momentum slow, particularly in the Grid Operations category. Some states that received an influx of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to modernize their grid are being surpassed by states with more deliberate, locally-funded efforts.
6.   Utilities are prioritizing efforts to address customer demands for greater choice and the capability to manage their own energy usage. The trend is towards greater utility engagement and communications with customers. Investments in a range of technologies enable these efforts, providing greater visibility to customers, improved communication of critical information, and enhanced situational awareness for grid operators.
7.   Clean energy targets by states, cities, and corporations are driving utility efforts to accommodate rapid growth in distributed energy resources. With some states, cities, and corporations now targeting up to 100 percent renewables, efforts by a growing number of utilities to meet these goals are impacting their long-range planning, product and service offerings, and grid operations.

The next decade promises even greater grid innovation, including expanded use of renewable energy resources, storage, and electric vehicles; increased physical and cyber security and resiliency measures; and greater consumer choice via broader product and service offerings. As these and other grid modernization efforts expand, we hope that the GMI continues to be a useful tool for assessing activity and evaluating progress.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Could This Super-Material Cause an Electric Vehicle Breakthrough/RNN

Always exciting to premier new, potential technology that will amp up an already growing industry--in this case, EV's and hybrid cars.

Electric vehicle manufacturers and battery makers have long been searching for the “Holy Grail” technology that could lower the cost of batteries while also extending their range. Government research labs, venture capital, startups, and large corporations have all toyed with different ways to get to the promise land.
But one material is emerging as the most promising innovation to date that could actually lead to cheap, long-range and fast-charging electric vehicles: graphite. Companies included today are: General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC), Magna International Inc. (NYSE: MGA), Pretium Resources Inc. (NYSE: PVG), Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (NYSEARCA:LIT)
Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon. Within graphite is graphene, the world’s thinnest material that has some superlative properties. Graphene is incredibly durable and tough – 200 times stronger than steel – yet ultra-light weight. It is described as the world’s strongest and lightest material. It is also transparent, and conducts electricity substantially better than copper. Electrons can travel using graphene with virtually zero resistance and no heat loss, nearly qualifying it as a superconductor.
These virtues have singled it out as one of candidates most likely to take lithium-ion batteries to the next level, potentially leading to a breakthrough for electric vehicles. The thinking is that graphene will allow EVs to recharge must faster and go longer distances.
The only problem is that production of graphene is still low. Graphite itself is still cheap, but the trick is rendering out the graphene. Scientists were only able to separate out graphene in 2004, and researchers and entrepreneurs are still looking for ways to mass produce the material at low cost.
There lots of ideas to render out graphene – synthetically, electro-chemically, ultra-sound and microwaves are just a few.
Another method that shows promise is one using a bio-electro chemical industrial process, as in the one pioneered by a small company called BEGO, a company based in Hong Kong. BEGO’s process is low-impact, using naturally occurring microbes, along with salt electrolytes and electrodes to coax out graphene from graphite.