With the introduction of Napster some years ago, peer-to-peer quickly became a buzzword that challenged the typical distribution model for music first, and for movies & TV shows later. Nowadays, talk about torrent downloads and online music services is an accepted part of our digital landscape. Some visionaries have even started producing their own web-tv shows and distributing them using peer-to-peer technology (link).
There are now other industries that are to be challenged by the peer-to-peer business model; of those, the most unlikely and surprising is our traditional and well-established banking system. According to an article in Tripwire (link), research from Gartner indicates that peer-to-peer online money lending networks are expected to grab 10% of the worldwide lending market by 2,010. I am not sure I would like to lend thousands of dollars to an individual directly, unless there is an intermediary that is willing to manage and collect on bad debts on my and other lenders’ behalf. But stranger things have happened before.
Note: If you have come here with the need to compare my original article to that of NucFluens, you’re in for a surprise. I have taken some of NucFluens improvements, and incorporated them in this post. In the near future I plan to include an archival copy of the original article (no photo, headers, and original title) for those of you interested in the nature of the improvements.
In the topic of renewable energy, there is a heated debate about whether solar, wind, and other environmentally-friendly technologies will ever provide an alternative to coal-generated power. The key issue at stake is whether the renewable sources provide sufficient energy with enough reliability to replace coal in the provision of ’base load’. In case you’re new to the topic, base load refers to the minimum amount of energy required by our cities. It is the baseline-level required to ensure no parts of our cities and rural areas have a blackout. Think about it as the minimum wage required by our electricity needs.
Base load: A problem for alternative energy sources
The problem with base load is that we need to ensure our generation facilities always provide at least that amount of power into the grid. But the sun doesn’t always shine; and the wind doesn’t always blow. There are several articles that explain in detail the problem that this poses for the development of a sustainable, renewable energy generation system (link). There is a team of scientists based on California that believes there is an alternative. I found out about them via Robert Cringely, a published author & columnist who has been writing on the Technology field for over 20 years. In his weekly column ’I Cringely’ of the 12 of October 2007 (link) , Bob describes the approach that ’Makani Power’ (link) is taking.
Makani Power: Creating a better future
The basic idea is simple enough: They want to build a super-kite to be flown at stratospheric altitudes, where the wind always blows at high speed; and attach power-generating turbines to the kites. If they succeed, the area required to generate ’base load’ for the whole of the US will be entirely within their means, as it will be for many other countries – Australia included.
Google: An unlikely ally
This is very exciting news for those of us worried about global warming; and it was fascinating to read that of all the companies that could have invested into Makani Power, it was an unlikely investor that took the plunge. Their name? Google
The concept is simple; more than enought money has been provided; there are technical experts that are luminaries in the field; and the company backing this new venture is renowned for an unprecedented level of success. The only remaining question is When will it be ready?
For our own sake, I hope the answer is sometime very soon!
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