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    Tuesday
    Aug052014

    Solar is Hot in Britain? Combination of subsidies, public support, and creative finance

    Saw this WSJ article that Solar Energy is Hot in Britain.

    Britain Is Solar-Energy Hot Spot

    Subsidies, Public Support and Creative Finance Benefit Solar

    Argus Hardy walks among the fields of his farm in Great Glemham, Suffolk, recently turned into a solar power field by Allianz. Alex Masi for The Wall Street Journal

    SUFFOLK, England—Alongside the old airfield here, ripening barley shifts in the breeze. Across the way, a more static crop stretches into the distance: 80,000 solar panels, their silvery surfaces facing south.

    We are used to hearing about solar projects in Spain which have crashed due to the end of subsidies.  Other parts of Europe have been known for Solar and you wouldn’t think Britain would due to clouds and rain.

    Britain, a land of cloudy skies and reliable rain, is fast becoming the hottest spot in Europe for many investors in solar energy. Germany is overcrowded with panels. A sudden end to subsidies killed Spanish solar. A sluggish economy is dragging on Italy.

    Britain has grown substantially.

    In 2010, there were under 100 megawatts of solar capacity in the U.K.—barely enough to power the homes of a modest town. Now, there is between 3.2 and 4 gigawatts. This year, market-research firm Solarbuzz projects that the U.K. will overtake Germany as Europe's largest installer of solar panels, putting in 6% of the world's new solar.

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    The part that got my attention is the focus on the creative financing to make solar projects work.

    "The U.K. solar sector is probably at the forefront of capital innovation in the global renewables sector," said Ben Warren, head of environmental finance at EY. "It's one of the very few areas where institutional investors are looking at making direct investments."

    Several developers have also issued "solar bonds" to fund building, with private individuals investing through companies such as Abundance Generation, which adopts acrowdfunding model to connect investors with small projects—among them a plan to put panels on the roofs of schoolhouses.

    Exchange-listed funds that offer exposure to solar have also sprung up in the U.K., among them Foursight Solar, Bluefield Solar Income FundBSIF.LN -0.24%NextEnergy Solar Fund and investment company The Renewables Infrastructure GroupTRIG.LN -0.17% which have all listed on the London Stock ExchangeLSE.LN -0.26% in the past two years. Bluefield raised £130 million at its initial public offering and has since raised more money for acquisitions.

    Thursday
    Jul312014

    Short Blogging Break

    Taking a short blogging break.  Today was a day for a hike, a bloody mary, and some sun.  Oh, I admit I did do some work, but when work is fun it doesn’t feel like work.

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    Kids are Skiing.

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    You can see the snow on the mountain in this shot.

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    It is too warm to ski all day, so the kids can go for a swim.

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    Wednesday
    Jul302014

    Some SSDs are not as energy efficient as you think

    I was talking to a storage expert the other day and he mentioned a customer that I have worked with has chosen to go all SSD in its data center.  I would assume the logic is SSDs are the most efficient solution and given their purchasing power they can get prices that few others can get, therefore the cost differential vs. HDD can become a non-issue.  I heard this and think I know some of the people behind this and I questioned their assumptions to use SSDs as storage solution that eliminates HDD.

    Digital Ocean has a lot of hype with their all SSDs environment and the idea that SSDs are the future can be a “false positive."

    Doing a bit of research I found StorageMojo recently posted on SSDs - hot, hungry and slow.

    High performance SSDs: hot, hungry & sometimes slow

    by ROBIN HARRIS on FRIDAY, 25 JULY, 2014

    Anyone looking at how flash SSDs have revolutionized power constrained mobile computing could be forgiven for thinking that all SSDs are power-efficient. But they’re not.

    In a recent Usenix HotStorage ’14 paper Power, Energy and Thermal Considerations in SSD-Based I/O Acceleration researchers Jie Zhang, Mustafa Shihab and Myoungsoo Jung of UT Dallas examine what they call “many-resource” SSDs, those with multiple channels, cores and flash chips.

    ...

    The price of performance
    Each flash die has limited bandwidth. Writes are slow. Wear must be leveled. ECC is required. DRAM buffers smooth out data flows. Controllers run code to manage all the tricks required to make an EEPROM look like a disk, only faster.

    So the number of chips and channels in high performance SSDs has risen to achieve high bandwidth and low latency. Which takes power and creates heat.

    Bottom line here are some insights.

    Key findings
    The many-resource SSD exhibits several characteristics not usually associated with SSDs.

    • High temperatures. 150-210% higher than conventional SSDs, up to 182F.
    • High power. 2-7x the power, 282% higher for reads, up to 18w total.
    • Performance throttling. At 180F the many-resource SSD throttles performance by 16%, equivalent to hitting the write cliff.
    • Large write penalty. Writes at 64KB and above in aged devices caused the highest temperatures, presumably due to extra overhead for garbage collection and wear leveling.

    And here is the kicker, a SSD can consume 2X the power of a HDD.

    The StorageMojo take
    This appears to be the first in-depth analysis of the power, temperature and performance of a modern high-end SSD. The news should be cautionary for system architects.

    For example, one new datacenter PCIe SSD is spec’d at 25w – higher than the paper found on slightly older drives. That’s twice what a 15k Seagate requires.

    The paper StorageMojo refers to is here.

    This paper closes saying many-resource SSDs are 4-5X more power intense than conventional SSD and HDD.

    Conclusions

    In this paper, our empirical analysis reveal that dynamic power consumption of many-resource SSDs are respectively 5x and 4x worse than conventional SSD and HDD. Many-resource SSDs generate 58% higher operating tem- perature, which can introduce SSD overheating prob- lem and power throttling issues. Based on our analysis, HW/SW optimization studies are required to improve en- ergy efficiency of modern SSDs in many user scenarios. 

    Tuesday
    Jul292014

    Electricity Demand Growth disappears, The Shift to Mobile contributes

    WSJ article reports on the mystery of Electricity Demand not growing the way the industry expects.

    Electric Utilities Get No Jolt From Gadgets, Improving Economy

    Electricity Sales Anemic for Seventh Year in a Row

    Five years and an economic recovery later, electricity sales at the Columbus, Ohio-based power company still haven't rebounded to the peak reached in 2008. As a result, executives have had to abandon their century-old assumption that the use of electricity tracks overall economic conditions.

    "It's a new world for us," says Chief Executive Nick Akins.

    Utility executives across the country are reaching the same conclusion. Even though Americans are plugging in more gadgets than ever and the unemployment rate had dropped at one point to a level last reported in 2008, electricity sales are looking anemic for the seventh year in a row.

    The article covers the energy efficiency shift.

    Energy efficiency blunts the impact of population and economic growth, because upgrades in lighting, appliances and heavy equipment reduce energy needs. In 2005, the average refrigerator consumed 840 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A typical 2010 replacement needed only 453 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

    There are various industries covered in their usage in the WSJ article, but the one thing that is not discussed is the shift to Mobile.  Especially kids.  Few kids want to jump on a computer.  First choice is their phone, 2nd is a tablet, then a laptop.  I don’t know about you, but the PC is gathering dust compared to the rest.

    Monday
    Jul282014

    Apple gives tour of Data Center Solar Farm to journalist

    The CilmateDesk posts a Youtube video.

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    Mother Jones writes up what is shown in the above video.

    Inside the Huge Solar Farm That Powers Apple's iCloud

    Lisa Jackson on Apple's wide-ranging plan to green its act.

    | Mon Jul. 28, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

    It looks like the green efforts are part of Apple’s marketing strategy.

    After converting all of its data centers to clean energy, the Guardian understands Apple is poised to use solar power to manufacture sapphire screens for the iPhone 6, at a factory in Arizona.

    And in a departure for its reputation for secretiveness, Apple is going out of its way to get credit for its green efforts.

    "We know that our customers expect us to do the right thing about these issues," Lisa Jackson, the vice-president of environmental initiatives told the Guardian.

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